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Jab drive gains steam as new Sinovac batch lands

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Another 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines arrived at Phnom Penh International Airport on Sunday and will be distributed in the capital and Kandal province. Heng Chivoan

Jab drive gains steam as new Sinovac batch lands

COVID-19 vaccination for the rest of Phnom Penh’s districts outside the red zones will start this month, with the next target being Kandal province before expanding to Preah Sihanouk and other parts of the country in order of prioritisation, according to senior Ministry of Health officials.

Meanwhile, another 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines arrived in the capital on May 16 and will be distributed in Phnom Penh and Kandal. This is the fourth batch of vaccines that the government has purchased from China.

York Sambath, health ministry secretary of state who was present during the vaccine handover ceremony at Phnom Penh International Airport, told reporters: “This year we must vaccinate everyone in all [priority] locations.

“The national Covid-19 vaccination commission and the vaccine procurement committee led by Prime Minister Hun Sen are doing whatever possible to inoculate all residents aged 18 and over in Phnom Penh, Kandal and other provinces.”

In a Facebook post, Hun Sen said Cambodia had purchased three million doses of Sinovac vaccines so far, including the 500,000 doses which arrived on May 16.

As of May 16, Cambodia had acquired more than five million doses of Covid-19 vaccines both purchased and donated from China, with a smaller amount coming through the WHO’s Covax initiative.

Sambath reiterated that Cambodia would procure sufficient vaccine supplies to immunise between 10 and 13 million people.

“As we have all seen, the government is trying to purchase more vaccines from Sinopharm, Sinovac and other companies. We are getting in touch with our development partners on this matter,” she said.

Cambodia has thus far inoculated more than two million people.

In Phnom Penh’s red zones, military medics have started administering second shots to residents after the first doses were nearly completed for everyone in just 15 days.

Ith Sarath, Deputy Commander-in-Chief and Joint Chief of Staff of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, said that in the 15-day period, more than 650,000 people have been vaccinated with their first doses. The military has deployed 3,442 medics from 31 units for the vaccination campaign.

“The red zone is a complicated situation with a high risk for Covid-19 infection … our military vaccination teams have tried their best to overcome all hardships during this campaign,” he said, adding that first doses still continued to be administered to people in some communes of Por Sen Chey and Meanchey districts.

The Ministry of National Defence began its vaccination drive for Phnom Penh’s red zones in six districts –Kamboul, Dangkor, Por Sen Chey, Meanchey, Tuol Kork and Russey Keo – on May 1.

For residents outside the red zones, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration on May 15 announced a first dose campaign for Boeung Keng Kang and Sen Sok districts from May 18-31, with second shots scheduled for June 1-15.

Separately, health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said people who have recovered from Covid-19 would not need to get vaccinated against the disease because they have already developed antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, but they can get the jab six month after recovery if they desire.

“For those who have received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine and then contracted the virus, or those who have not gotten the jab and contracted the disease but later recovered, they don’t need to get vaccinated because they have already developed immunity. This has been scientifically proven,” she said.

Vandine, who is also head of the national Covid-19 vaccination commission, noted that people who still wanted to be inoculated against the novel coronavirus and its variants can do so six months after recovery.

Anyone who suspects that they have Covid-19 or has been in contact with a probable or confirmed case of infection is required to undergo quarantine, in accordance with the health ministry’s guidelines.

The World Health Organisation also cautioned on May 14 that even those who had received the jab should continue to wear facemasks in areas where the coronavirus is spreading.

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