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Provinces blame low vaccination rates on low vaccine supply

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While the health ministry has complained about low vaccination rates in certain localities, local authorities say the problem is actually a lack of distributed doses.

In a November 14 document, the Ministry of Health said that around 18 million distributed vaccine doses remained unused. Over 5.2 million of these doses were in the north and 8.2 million doses in the south, the ministry said.

The localities with high numbers of unused vaccine doses included Hanoi with 760,000, Thanh Hoa with 639,000, Nghe An with 910,000, Ho Chi Minh City with 506,000 and An Giang with 1.2 million doses.

As of Wednesday morning, data published on the Covid-19 vaccination portal showed that Hanoi has around 177,899 unused vaccine doses, HCMC, 290,300 and Thanh Hoa, 44,193. Nghe An had used up every vaccine dose it had received.

Trinh Huu Hung, director of the Thanh Hoa Department of Health, rejected the health ministry’s claim that the province was slow in vaccinating its residents.

Hung said the 639,000 unused vaccine doses in Thanh Hoa cited by the ministry was “inaccurate.”

“We haven’t received those 639,000 doses,” he said, adding that it would take a few days before the doses would actually arrive, and some more time before the people could receive them.

“If it’s quick, maybe three days. Maybe it would take an entire week for us to receive the doses, and another 3-5 days to use them up,” Hung said.

Hung added that some Covid-19 vaccines require both shots to be of the same type, like the Abdala vaccine produced by Cuba. As such, spare doses would need to be stored for being given as second or third shots, as needed, Hung said.

“At this moment in time, if we exclude the vaccine doses being stored to be used as the second and third shots, Thanh Hoa almost has no vaccine doses left,” he said, adding that the province has no problem with its personnel and capacity for vaccination. Thanh Hoa can administer up to 200,000 doses a day if necessary; and the province has administered 1.8 million doses so far, Hung added.

Meanwhile, the Nghe An health department said the province has been given 871,000 Abdala vaccine doses. Of these, 435,000 doses would be second shots, and the rest would be third shots.

Second shots would be given until Thursday as scheduled, the department said, adding that it would take 2-3 days to use up the doses.

Nghe An has received 1.9 million vaccine doses so far. Around 400,000 people in the province have received two doses.

Boot on the other foot

Son La is currently the locality with the lowest vaccine coverage, with only about half of its adult population receiving at least one vaccine shot and 14 percent receiving two shots. As of Wednesday, Son La had received 551,610 doses, and had administered 508,122 of them.

Trang Thi Xuan, deputy chairwoman of the Son La People’s Committee, said the province’s low vaccine coverage was due to a lack of doses.

She said a large number of doses were prioritized for major localities and those in southern Vietnam, which meant that Son La only received a small amount.

“Whenever the doses are distributed, we vaccinated our people as quickly as possible. We even receive spare doses from localities that could not vaccinate their people in time,” Xuan said, reiterating that the problem lies in the fact that the province has not been given enough doses by the health ministry.

Tran Le Doai, deputy chairman of the Nam Dinh People’s Committee, also attributed the northern province’s low vaccine coverage to the lack of doses distributed by the health ministry. Only around 58 percent of its adult population have received at least one dose, and just 13 percent have received two doses.

“Our problem is the fact that we don’t have enough vaccine doses to give, not our vaccination speed. We could give out 100,000 shots a day,” he said.

In Cao Bang, deputy office head of the provincial People’s Committee Vu Anh Tuan also said the province lacked enough vaccine doses to cover the population despite its high vaccination speed. Cao Bang has only covered 65 percent of its population with at least one dose, and 41 percent have received two doses.

The Cao Bang People’s Committee Tuesday requested more doses – around 742,000 – to cover 70 percent of its population. Another 103,000 doses would also be needed to vaccinate children aged 12-18, the province said.

Vietnam has vaccinated 65.2 million people with at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot. Around 36.8 million people have received two shots.

By Viet Tuan & Le Hoang & Nguyen Hai – VnExpress.net – November 18, 2021 

Provinces blame low vaccination rates on low vaccine supply
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