Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Vaccine drive begins Wednesday as Health Ministry reassures public

Healthcare officials prepare for the start of the COVID-19 vaccination drive that starts on Wednesday. Panha Chhorpoan
Healthcare officials prepare for the start of the COVID-19 vaccination drive that starts on Wednesday. Panha Chhorpoan

Cambodia will begin vaccinating senior government officials, target groups, frontline workers starting Wednesday after the first batch of the Chinese-produced Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Phnom Penh.

The Health Ministry said the government will also conduct a vaccination ceremony for high ranking officials at four different hospitals in the city. Ministers and senior officials will be vaccinated at Calmette Hospital, mid-level officials at Preah Ang Duong Hospital, city and provincial governors at Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, and the National Pediatric Center will inoculate journalists

Ngy Meng, director of Khmer-Soviet Friend Hospital, said a number of governors had contacted him to get vaccinated on Wednesday but he wasn’t sure how many would come to the hospital. 

“They contacted me and they will come [to get vaccinated]. When any person comes, we will inject them on a first-come-first-serve basis,” said Meng, adding that after the governors, the doctors and medical officers will be vaccinated on a voluntary basis. 

Srey Vantha, deputy director of Preak Ket Mealea Hospital, said the military doctors will work on vaccinating medical staff, especially those who are working at quarantine centers. 

“We will inject doctors who provide medical services,” Vantha.

Cambodia received 600,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine on Sunday, half of which will be used for target groups and the other half for the security forces. 

After initially agreeing to get vaccinated on Sunday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said he had been advised that the vaccine was most effective for those in the age bracket 18 to 59 years. However, Defense Minister Tea Banh has already got the vaccine. 

Hun Sen was going to get the vaccine to convince citizens who are skeptical of the effectiveness of the vaccine. He did say that he would make his sons and daughters-in-law get the vaccine. 

Youk Sambath, a Health Ministry secretary of state, told Fresh News that Hun Sen’s sons Hun Manet, Hun Many and Hun Manith will be vaccinated Wednesday morning, along with their brothers-in-law Dy Vichea and Sok Puthyvuth.

Health Ministry official Or Vandine addressed concerns about the Sinopharm vaccine on Monday, ahead of the start of the government's vaccination drive on Wednesday. Panha Chhorpoan
Health Ministry official Or Vandine addressed concerns about the Sinopharm vaccine on Monday, ahead of the start of the government’s vaccination drive on Wednesday. Panha Chhorpoan

Health Ministry Secretary of State Or Vandine held a press conference on Monday to address questions about the Sinopharm vaccine. She said the vaccine was almost 80 percent effective and that no vaccine was 100 percent successful in curbing the disease. 

She said the WHO was currently in the second phase of evaluating the Sinopharm vaccine. She said that only a few adverse reactions had been recorded, but she did list a number of health conditions that disqualified people from getting the vaccine. 

People with acute respiratory disease, asthma, eczema, urticaria, angioedema or other swelling and chronic diseases cannot get the vaccine, she said. 

Also, people with epilepsy or other causes of seizures, meningitis, mental illness, hereditary diseases, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, HIV, lymphoma, leukemia and cardiovascular disease would not get the vaccine. 

“Especially, pregnant and lactating women or women who are planning to get pregnant within three months are not allowed to get this vaccine,” Vandine said, adding that people with kidney disease and cancer needed to consult their doctors before getting inoculated. 

The Healthy Ministry had introduced an e-registration form or can go to health centers to register. 

Vandine added that she would be one of the people to get the vaccine. “I volunteer to get injected with Sinopharm vaccine which is from China’s aid,” Vandine said.

Education Minister declined to comment about getting vaccinated. Justice Minister Koeut Rith said he will be vaccinated and had informed hospitals that a number of ministry officials would want to get the vaccine as well. 

“There are three to four secretaries of states who will go to get injected with me,” Rith said. 

“I think that this vaccine will help protect ourselves, our families and our country and it is a privilege for the persons who receive this vaccine,” said Rith.

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