Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Garment Worker Vaccinations Begin in Phnom Penh

A garment worker is vaccinated against COVID-19 at a factory in Phnom Penh, on the first day of a campaign to vaccinate garment workers, April 7, 2021. CamboJA/ Panha Chhorpoan
A garment worker is vaccinated against COVID-19 at a factory in Phnom Penh, on the first day of a campaign to vaccinate garment workers, April 7, 2021. CamboJA/ Panha Chhorpoan

A Campaign to vaccinate up to 80 percent of Cambodia’s garment workers began in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, with thousands of injections given in major the city’s industrial zones, the Labor Ministry said.

The government has the capacity to vaccinate 24,000 workers each day in the garment sector, which has seen at least 18 workers test positive, among Cambodia’s 2915 COVID-19 cases, ministry spokesman Heng Sour said as the campaign got underway in Canadia Industrial Park.

“According to figure of Labor Ministry, there are 1.8 million workers across the country and at least 70 percent to 80 percent of all workers are healthy enough to be vaccinated,” Sour said. “So it means that the workers who can go to vaccinate from 1.4 million workers to 1.5 million workers.”

“The first step, we begin Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone, Canadia Industrial Park, ISI Industrial Park and [on Friday] we will open about five places more to expand vaccination for our garment workers,” the ministry spokesman said, adding that it would take three to six months to complete the drive.

“We will vaccinate between 10,000 to 12,000 garment workers for COVID-19 each day,” he said.

The spokesman said that 18 infections in garment sector had come from outside and mostly not spread in factories.

My Rana, 39, is a worker at Trillion Garment factory but she came early morning at Industrial Park on Wednesday so that she could get vaccinated.

“The vaccination will help protect me and my family,” she told CamboJA, adding that having the injection was a major relief given the hot and cramped working conditions at the factory – but that she would continue to follow hygiene and social distancing protocols.

Garment workers wait to receive COVID-19 vaccines as the campaign to vaccinate workers in the sector began in Phnom Penh, April 7, 2021. CamboJA/ Panha Chhorpoan

Pav Sina, president of Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), said that it was a positive for garment workers to be made a priority for vaccination with the industry having worked through the pandemic largely uninterrupted.

“I think that this a good opportunity,” Sina said, appealing for all workers in the sector to volunteer for the injection.

“I encourage all workers need to go to vaccinate together to protect COVID-19 from spreading; if some workers do not vaccinate and some workers vaccinate, the risk remains.”

Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), called for factory management to educate staff of the benefits of the vaccine, following some reports of workers having doubts about its quality of effectiveness.

“I want to appeal to all factory members and all garment workers: do not believe the fake news,” said Mr Loo.

He said he did not know how many workers had registered for the injection.

Cambodia added 91 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday – all but one of them local transmissions – taking the overall tally to 2915, with 22 dead, the Health Ministry announced.

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