Prime Minister Hun Sen has told parents of children aged 12-17 in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal and Preah Sihanouk to get them ready for vaccinations soon.
“There is a need to vaccinate children and youths aged 12 to 17. According to the statistics provided by [Minister of Economy and Finance] Aun Pornmoniroth, there are ... around two million children and youths, so we need around four million more doses,” he said in an audio address to the nation on July 16.
“I've already told them to procure more vaccines. So far, the number of vaccines we have received and are expected to receive is 22 million. And if we count vaccines that will come through donations [as pledged], we will have more than 31 million. But then again, we cannot be sure that the promises will materialise, so we cannot count them as vaccines we have on hand," he said.
Hun Sen said as the current vaccination campaign is focused on the remaining four million people aged 18 and over, vaccination for children may start now with Phnom Penh, Kandal and Preah Sihanouk.
“I appeal to all parents and caretakers to get ready to bring their children to get the vaccines soon. We want to achieve herd immunity which will enable us to reopen the economy, especially schools which we have closed and permitted only distance learning. This is a loss for us,” he said.
If children aged 12-17 are vaccinated, schools from secondary to higher education levels can reopen. He told Phnom Penh, Kandal and Preah Sihanouk governors to get vaccination teams ready in cooperation with the ad-hoc national Covid-19 vaccination commission.
The commission must also work hard to negotiate with vaccine-producing countries, especially China, in purchasing the vaccines for children and youths. The relevant authorities also have to think of children who will reach the age 12 soon, he said.
He noted that the vaccinations for children would be on a voluntary basis. But because no vaccinees, including centenarians, have reported any major side-effects, he believed that parents will bring their children for vaccinations.