A senior Ministry of Health official urged the public to get their third, fourth and fifth Covid-19 booster shots, while noting that a sixth is yet to be rolled out pending a decision by the national Covid-19 vaccination committee and permission from Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Ministry secretary of state York Sambath reiterated the call while receiving Australia’s donation of 283,000 Pfizer vaccine doses for the 5-11 age group on August 26.

“We have offered some Cambodian people a fifth dose, and for a sixth shot, we must wait for a decision by the national committee and permission from the head of government. Prime Minister Hun Sen will decide whether we offer a sixth dose,” she said.

According to Sambath, Cambodia has more than seven million doses in stock, and with the ministry monitoring them on a regular basis, no vaccines has expired thus far.

“We have Pfizer and Sinovac vaccines in stock which do not expire until 2023. There are no issues with them. We monitor them regularly as there can be difficulties when looking to buy vaccines, and friendly countries have donated a lot,” she said.

The Australian embassy in Phnom Penh said the vaccines, delivered through its global partnership with UNICEF Cambodia, added to the Australian government’s significant support for the Kingdom throughout the pandemic, and are another milestone as the two countries celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations.

At the vaccine handover ceremony, Australian embassy charge d’affaires Andreas Zurbrugg encouraged parents to ensure that the vaccination of their children is up to date.

“I congratulate the government of Cambodia on working hard to curb Covid-19, and the vaccine at this time will be offered to children aged five to 11 years old. This will help protect them and their communities against Covid-19,” Zurbrugg said.

Australia remains committed to working with Cambodia as a long-term friend and partner in response to the pandemic, he added.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said Australia had donated not only vaccines but also medical equipment to Cambodia in the fight against Covid-19, with the Kingdom having received 196,800 Pfizer vaccine doses for children in July this year.

Australia had by December 2021 already donated more than 2.3 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Cambodia.

“The donations show the attentiveness of the government and the people of Australia in the fight against the pandemic and in protecting the lives of the Cambodian people.

“Vaccines are important against Covid-19 and for protecting the lives of people in this global pandemic.

“Under our efficient vaccine rollout policy, Cambodia has brought the Covid-19 pandemic under control,” he said in a recent social media post.

According to the health ministry, as of August 27 Cambodia had vaccinated 94.78 per cent of the estimated population of 16 million.

Almost 10 million people have received a third dose, while nearly four million had received a fourth and more than 610,000 a fifth.