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Less than two weeks after the first batch of vaccine doses landed, Vietnam officially began its national vaccination campaign against COVID-19.

Tuoi Tre reports that this morning, March 8, staff of four medical facilities in Hanoi, Saigon and Hai Duong — where the latest COVID-19 outbreak is still ongoing — would receive the first dose of their Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine regimen.

In the first phase, Vietnam will prioritize vaccinations at 21 such facilities that have been treating COVID-19 patients throughout the local epidemic. In the south, 900 staff members of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital of Tropical Diseases are the first to get the shot. The hospital handled the majority of coronavirus patients in the region during outbreaks in 2020. Most prominently, doctors here successfully treated Case 91, a British pilot who suffered severe lung damage due to the virus, but eventually recovered.

The infectious disease institute picked 28-year-old Dr. Dư Lê Thanh Xuân from the ICU - Poison Control Department as the first person to be vaccinated. Xuân and her fiancé Dr. Nguyễn Văn Thành Được, also a department member, decided to postpone their wedding several times to focus on their work as frontline healthcare providers for COVID-19 patients.

In Hai Duong Province, the Hai Duong City Medical Center and Kim Thanh District Medical Center, both based in COVID-19 hotspots, are the first in line to get vaccines, followed by the remaining 10 districts and cities in the province. On March 8, about 50 people will get their shot as part of the Hai Duong City vaccination drive, including doctors, nurses, lab technologists, workers at quarantine facilities, official and volunteer contact tracers, and police officers, among other frontline staff.

In Hanoi, vaccines are deployed first today to the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases, where 100 staff members will get their first shot. “We prioritize female medical staff because today is March 8 [International Women’s Day],” a hospital administrator told Tuoi Tre. Tomorrow, Hanoi will inoculate staff of Thanh Nhan Hospital and then 300 workers of the Hanoi Center for Disease Control.

Vietnam received 117,600 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on February 24 as part of a deal between the Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC) and producer AstraZeneca. The government plans to give 32,000 to Hai Duong; 8,000 each to Saigon and Hanoi; 10 other provinces will get from 1,200 to 3,800 doses each; and 30,000 doses will go to the national defense and public security ministries.

[Photo via Bao Chinh Phu]

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