Việt Nam issues new COVID-19 vaccine guidance amid uncertain global pandemic situation

15/05/2024 10:40

The Ministry of Health aims to stay ahead through proactive vaccination of vulnerable groups as the virus continues evolving.

Việt Nam issues new COVID-19 vaccine guidance amid uncertain global pandemic situation

15/05/2024 10:40

The Ministry of Health aims to stay ahead through proactive vaccination of vulnerable groups as the virus continues evolving.

A student receives a COVID-19 vaccine shot in Quảng Ninh Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Đào Thị Minh Tú

HÀ NỘI — Facing an unpredictable global COVID-19 situation with new sub-variants continuing to emerge, Việt Nam's Ministry of Health has issued updated guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations to bolster immunity, especially for high-risk groups.

The World Health Organisation in Việt Nam recommended in November 2023 updating priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination given the evolving pandemic landscape.

Heeding this advice and consulting its immunisation advisory groups, the ministry specified the following vaccination guidelines:

Priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination: healthcare workers, individuals aged 50 and above, individuals with underlying medical conditions, unvaccinated individuals aged 18 and above, and pregnant women.

Vaccination schedule: Unvaccinated individuals should receive one dose immediately while those previously vaccinated should get a booster at least six months apart. For pregnant women, one dose per pregnancy at any stage is recommendable, preferably in the middle trimester.

The ministry has also urged local health authorities to review vaccination rates in their areas, identify remaining unvaccinated priority groups based on the new guidance, and request vaccine supplies from the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology accordingly to facilitate a timely rollout.

Việt Nam has administered over 266.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to date, with nearly 100 per cent of individuals aged 12 and above fully vaccinated. More importantly, 89.6 per cent of high-risk individuals aged 18 and above have received a 4th dose, among the highest global coverage rates.

However, the pandemic's uncertain trajectory globally, with new concerning variants emerging like the highly immune-evasive XBB sub-variant and the recently-detected KP.2 offshoot, underscores the continued need for vigilance.

A recent preprint study warns that KP.2 appears more transmissible and better able to evade vaccine-induced immunity than previous strains.

While COVID-19 is currently under control in Việt Nam, the ministry stressed preparedness plans under Decision No.3984 in case of a resurgent, vaccine-resistant outbreak exceeding healthcare capacities.

With over 432,000 Pfizer doses stockpiled and expiring in September 2024, the ministry aims to stay ahead through proactive vaccination of vulnerable groups as the virus continues evolving. — VNS

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