Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine has rebuffed criticism that vaccinations for returning migrant workers were going too slow.

Vandine, who is also head of the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, explained that migrant workers can get the jabs only after they have tested negative for Covid-19 following their quarantine and cannot be vaccinated right away once they enter Cambodia.

“When they finish quarantine and are cleared of Covid-19, they can get vaccinated at any centre in their community free of charge,” she said.

As of August 14, vaccinations in Cambodia had reached 83.36 per cent of the targeted adult population of 10 million and 26.56 per cent of the 12-17 age group of nearly two million.

In Phnom Penh, the Covid-19 vaccination campaign administering first doses to the 12-17 age group wrapped up on August 14, though children who missed their shot can still get it at designated sites in the coming days.

Ngy Mean Heng, director of the Phnom Penh municipal Department of Health, said more than 176,200 children and adolescents in the capital have now been vaccinated.

“We can extend the vaccination period for centres that still have children coming to get the vaccines. It was scheduled for just 14 days, but we will still provide vaccines if more people come tomorrow or the coming days,” he said.

He urged Phnom Penh residents to bring their children to get their first dose as soon as possible.

Also, as of August 13, a total of 53 Cambodian centenarians aged 100-113 in Phnom Penh and 16 provinces have voluntarily received Covid-19 vaccinations.

According to Vandine, eight are in Phnom Penh; three in Kandal; nine in Kampong Cham; eight in Kampong Thom; five in Tbong Khmum; two each in Prey Veng and Stung Treng; three each in Kratie, Preah Vihear and Ratanakkiri; and one each in Kampong Chhnang, Kampot, Takeo, Pursat, Siem Reap, Svay Rieng and Koh Kong.

“We’ve received information that there are more grandmothers and grandfathers who have been vaccinated. We will work on this further,” she said while providing gifts from Hun Sen to one of the centenarians in Kampong Thom.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia has applauded Cambodia for achieving a milestone of vaccinating over eight million people, though it cautioned that vaccination alone is not a “silver bullet”.

In a press release on August 12, WHO noted that vaccine is just one of the critical tools in fighting Covid-19, preventing severe illness, and reducing hospitalisations and deaths.

It warned that ‘vaccine optimism’ can be dangerous if individuals put down their guard.