Ministry to establish Covid-19 jab plan according to science

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A girl gets her Covid-19 vaccination at Chbar Ampov referral hospital in Phnom Penh in August. Heng Chivoan

The Ministry of Health is awaiting the outcome of Covid-19 vaccine research studies in order to determine whether people will need to be vaccinated annually, every six months or on some other schedule from 2022 onwards.

Or Vandine, ministry spokeswoman and chair of the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, said on November 23 that although the first Covid-19 vaccination campaign is technically closed, free vaccinations continue to be administered to all who request them nationwide.

“We are also conducting a study as well as a technical review and are in discussions with the World Health Organisation on this matter, but there is no clear indication yet of how often we will need to vaccinate in 2022,” she said.

“Whether booster doses should be administered like flu shots are and as some of our people have already been getting every year is uncertain. It’s still an open question whether the Covid-19 vaccines should be given every year or every six months,” she said.

The ministry is waiting for conclusive research from reputable scientists before making the call. Once a clear result is obtained and Prime Minister Hun Sen gives his approval, then the committee will follow those instructions, she added.

Vandine also called on those who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 to get the jabs immediately – especially women who are pregnant, even if they are breastfeeding, and people who have recovered from Covid-19 infections more than four months ago now.

“We must work together to prevent transmission of Covid-19 in the context of the new normal. We have to work together to maintain the sustainability of our healthcare system because we do not want to see lockdowns again or have people once again be afraid to go places,” she said.

She added that whether a future large-scale outbreak of Covid-19 occurs will depend on people’s personal behaviour because this situation demands changes in people’s attitudes and habits in order to live in the new normal, which means that everyone must learn to live with Covid-19 and adhere to the proper preventive health measures.

According to a report from the health ministry, the Covid-19 vaccination rate in Cambodia as of November 23 stands at 88.17 per cent of the total population of around 16 million.