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HANOI – Next month, Vietnam will launch its Covid-19 vaccine program with front-line healthcare workers and elderly people in line for the first doses as the nation battles a new surge of coronavirus infections, state media announced on Monday (Feb 22).

This year, the South-East Asian nation plans to collect 60 million doses, including 30 million under the WHO-led Covax program, with the first shipment of 204,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to arrive on Feb 28.

“The first wave of Covid-19 vaccinations, prioritising front-line medical workers and high-risk groups, will begin in March right after the first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrives and passes quality checks,” the state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
Refrigerators capable of storing vaccines at temperatures of -86 to -40 deg C were prepared in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang, the country’s three largest cities, the paper added.

The government has previously reported that it has been discussing future supply arrangements with Russian and US vaccine manufacturers, while anticipating the home-grown vaccine to be ready for domestic inoculation by May.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Health did not respond immediately to a request for comment on its vaccine policy.
Late last month, days after the country detected the first locally transmitted cases in nearly two months, Vietnam approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use.
Vietnam has managed to successfully suppress the virus for months due to targeted mass monitoring and stringent quarantine, but a recent epidemic has proven harder to stamp out.

Since the last epidemic began last month, the nation of 98 million people has reported 791 new cases, or around a third of its current caseload of 2,383 infections since cases were first identified a year ago.

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35 deaths due to the virus have been reported in Vietnam.

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