Caution advised for nation as vaccination drives finish

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A monk receives the Sinovac vaccine at Wat Mohamantrey Primary School in Olympic commune of Phnom Penh’s Boeung Keng Kang district in May. Heng Chivoan

Ten more provinces are set to wrap up their vaccination campaigns this week for people aged 18 and older, bringing the total number of provinces that have completed their jab drives to 16.

Vaccinations for the target adult population of 10 million are expected to be achieved before the end of this month.

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine, who also heads the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, said on September 12 that some other provinces are trying to complete their vaccinations soon despite having kicked off their campaigns late.

“We provided the vaccines to each province according to the strategy of Prime Minister Hun Sen. The distribution of vaccines was not equal initially so some provinces kicked off their vaccination campaigns earlier and some started later.

“But now we are pushing the authorities in all provinces to mobilise their people to get their jabs faster, though still on a voluntary basis.

“We are speeding up the process and looking to close the vaccination campaigns for all provinces across the country soon. Vaccinations will reach our target population of 10 million people ages 18 and over before, I expect, the end of this month,” she said.

Vandine said as of September 12, six provinces had already wrapped up their campaigns for first and second doses and another 10 provinces were set to complete their vaccination programmes as soon as this week.

In Svay Rieng province, authorities announced the close of their vaccination campaign for those aged 18 and over on September 13.

Pailin province held its closing ceremony for the first round of Covid-19 vaccinations campaign for people aged 18 and over throughout the province on September 12.

According to the provincial hall, a total of 42,053 people over the age of 18 were vaccinated with their first dose, or about 102.57 per cent of the target population. A total of 8,613 people aged 12-17 were given their first doses, or about 86.05 per cent of that population.

Vandine said at the event that the achievement of herd immunity against Covid-19 was the strategy the government was using to get back to normal in all sectors.

Pursat province also announced the closure of its first round of Covid-19 vaccinations for all people aged 12 and over on September 12.

According to the health ministry, Cambodia has vaccinated over 97 per cent of the adult population of 10 million and 86.86 per cent of the 12-17 age group of nearly two million.

Despite this remarkable progress, the ministry on September 13 called on the public to increase their vigilance against the spread of the disease though new case numbers have gone down from August to September.

It said the global Covid-19 situation has not improved and neighbouring countries are still experiencing a high rate of transmission, although it was relatively lower compared to recent months.

“Cambodia is seeing a decrease of transmissions from August to September and we are proud of this achievement. But in recent days, we’ve noted that the number of new cases has increased in some provinces,” the ministry said.

It said the latest outbreaks were occurring through traditional markets in both urban and rural areas in the provinces, though not at supermarkets. Most people contracted the disease while shopping at crowded traditional markets or when eating meals together or having some kind of group activity, particularly gatherings for drinks.

The ministry urged people to adapt their lives to the new normal and not lulled into a false sense of security due to the relative improvement of the situation or believe that their vaccinations made them invulnerable.

“Your contributions at the individual and community levels towards the prevention of Covid-19 are still the most important things you can do and you must keep doing them at all times, even though you have been vaccinated,” it said.