PM: Covid jabs for children will become obligatory

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A child receives vaccination against Covid-19 in Phnom Penh on September 17. Heng Chivoan

Prime Minister Hun Sen has affirmed that Covid-19 vaccinations for children aged 6-11 remain on a voluntary basis. The affirmation came as he kicked off the jab drive for this age group of around 1.9 million at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on September 17.

“We stick to this voluntary vaccination policy because some children’s health conditions are not strong enough. I have three grandchildren who have not received the jabs yet because doctors need to monitor their health first,” he said.

The prime minister said Covid-19 vaccinations for children will require parental consent, thereby obliging medical workers to interview their parents or guardians, and adding another layer to the process.

He noted, however, that in the foreseeable future this will no longer be an issue as the Ministry of Health plans to add Covid-19 jabs to its standard regimen of vaccines for children.

“Covid-19 vaccinations will become obligatory,” he said, adding that Covid jabs will be added as the 13th in the list of vaccines required for children.

Hun Sen has also suggested that the national Covid-19 vaccination committee and senior medical specialists further study the possibility of vaccinating the 3-5 age group of 915,046 and present a detailed report to him once the study is finished.

“We may need around two million doses to vaccinate them,” he said, adding that the aim is to eventually reopen schools at all levels across the country.

He said Cambodia is not the only country to vaccinate children against Covid-19, noting that other nations including China, Cuba, United Arab Emirate, Peru, El Salvador, Germany and Bahrain had already done so while the US and Israel are conducting further study.

“We need to move ahead to protect our children … This will enable them to go to school and it would be safe for both the children and their teachers,” he said.