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First Covid-19 Vaccine Doses Arrive in Vietnam. Who Will Get It First?

Vietnam's COVID-19 vaccination drive is about to begin.

VnExpress reports that 117,600 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine arrived on a flight from Seoul to Saigon this morning. They will be brought to a cold storage facility operated by the Vietnam Vaccine Joint Stock Company.

While it is not known exactly who will receive these initial doses, or when, earlier this week the government released a priority list for further vaccine batches that are on the way both through the COVAX program and Vietnam's deal to purchase 30 million doses of the above vaccine.

According to another VnExpress article the priority list, which was approved the Ministry of Health, includes frontline health workers, teachers, and people working in aviation and tourism. Other groups to be given priority are diplomats, customs and immigration officers, those working in the military and police bodies, and then people over the age of 65 or with a chronic disease. Vietnamese planning to study or work abroad, and those living in pandemic hotspots, are also included.

The news source adds that 1.2 million total vaccine doses are expected to arrive in Vietnam within the first quarter of this year, and will be distributed to over 500,000 medical workers and 116,000 other people on the front line of the fight against COVID-19.

A further 3.6 million doses arriving in the second quarter will go to 9,200 customs officers, 4,080 diplomatic personnel, 304,000 police officers, 550,000 teachers and over one million soldiers. As of now there is no word on whether this will include foreign teachers.

In the second half of the year, vaccine numbers will jump substantially, with an estimated 33 million doses set to arrive for 7.6 million adults over 65, 7 million citizens with chronic diseases, 750,000 remaining teachers, and nearly 2 million workers in aviation, tourism, transport and other essential services. All of the above individuals will receive two shots of the vaccine.

In addition to the 30 million Oxford/AstraZeneca doses that the Vietnamese government will purchase, nearly 5 million doses will be supplied by COVAX. Doses obtained through COVAX will be given for free, while it is not yet clear whether there will be a fee for those shipped through separate agreements. Initial priority doses, however, will be free.

Globally, over 213 million doses of various COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in 95 countries, with Vietnam soon to join the list.

Further negotiations are underway with other vaccine providers, while two domestically produced COVID-19 vaccines are in human trials in Vietnam. These additional routes will eventually provide enough doses to vaccinate Vietnam's entire population.

[Photo via Flickr user Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff]