The Kingdom’s Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 and the working group overseeing logistics and implementation of the nation’s vaccination strategy have announced that a public vaccination campaign will begin from February 10.
The rollout will be done in phases according to the quantity of vaccines received over the course of the year.
Minister of Health and committee chairman Mam Bun Heng issued a press release on February 9 declaring who would be eligible to receive the recently delivered Sinopharm vaccine donated by China.
High-ranking national and provincial government officials and their children between the ages of 18 and 59 would be allowed to be vaccinated, as would all front-line medical specialists and professional journalists. Four facilities have been arranged as vaccination centres.
The next groups to be allowed vaccinations will be expert forces of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, local authorities, community police and border police, to be carried out by the Ministry of National Defence.
“In the experience of the health ministry’s vaccination programme, we have observed a rate of vaccine loss between 15 and 20 per cent, and so we have limited the number of volunteers to only 149,500 people for vaccination from this [first] shipment of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine,” he said.
The ministry also plans to officially launch an online registration system on February 11 for individuals applying to be vaccinated.
In a press conference on February 8, health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said the total number of senior government officials who would volunteer for vaccination had not yet been confirmed.
“For me, I have already thought about this vaccination, and I personally volunteered for the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine, which is a precious humanitarian donation from the People’s Republic of China. It’s in accordance with Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s order to increase public confidence,” Vandine said.
She acknowledged that there is not yet a Covid-19 vaccine that is recognised as 100 per cent effective by the World Health Organisation, but regardless, rollout of the vaccine would proceed.
Meanwhile, Neang Phat – the defence ministry’s permanent secretary of state and chairman of the inter-ministerial working group – announced on February 9 the launch by the ministry’s Covid-19 Vaccine Group of a voluntary vaccination campaign for its senior officials and leaders of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) aged 18 to 59.
“It will start at 2pm on February 10 at Preah Ket Mealea Hospital. The ministry will announce later the exact date and location for the vaccination of military chiefs, deputy chiefs, soldiers stationed at institutions and units of the RCAF,” Phat said.
In a voice message via Telegram on February 8, Prime Minister Hun Sen confirmed that his five children will receive this Covid-19 vaccine. Some provincial governors have also already volunteered for vaccination.
“To build confidence and be models for our people, members of the government, provincial governors and ministers 59 years old and under must contribute to this first Covid-19 vaccination campaign,” Hun Sen said.
He presented examples of model officials who would get the vaccine, including Minister of Environment Say Sam Al, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports Hang Chuon Naron and Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Chea Vandeth, among others.
Kampong Speu provincial governor Vei Samnang claimed he had no fear or anxiety over getting the vaccine because he believed in the medical specialists who had worked hard to develop it. It’s for helping people, not for killing people, he said.
“We have agreed as a group to take the Covid-19 vaccine at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital on February 10 at 9am. This includes all capital and provincial governors aged 59 and under,” he said.
Pailin provincial governor Ban Sreymom said she had also volunteered to receive the vaccine but had not yet received confirmation of the date.
“I had already prepared myself for vaccination when it arrived. I am not afraid because it’s for our safety. We are proud of the efforts of our head of government who is always thinking about us as a province along the border,” she said.
Separately, the Cambodian embassy in Vietnam warned all Cambodian citizens in the country, particularly in the Hanoi area, about the local restrictions and strict penalties for violations of Covid-19 procedures. Violators could face up to 12 years in prison and a fine of thousands of dollars.
As of February 9, Cambodia had recorded a total of 476 Covid-19 cases with 19 patients remaining hospitalised.