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Health Ministry Orders Plans for 3rd Vaccine Shots as Covid-19 Cases Surge

As Vietnam grapples with a resurgence of the novel coronavirus, officials have been asked to plan for booster shots.

Viet Nam News reports that the Ministry of Health has ordered cities and provinces to develop plans for administering third COVID-19 vaccine doses, with priority initially given to people over 50 years old. 

Local governments must accelerate the ongoing national vaccination campaign, and also draw up lists of people eligible for a booster shot. 

According to the ministry, as of Thursday, 135.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed nationwide. This includes 48.7 million Sinopharm doses, 47.5 million AstraZeneca doses, 33.3 million Pfizer doses, 5.2 million Abdala doses, and 1.2 million Sputnik V doses. 

Of these 135.2 million doses, over 113 million have been administered, enough to fully vaccinate 47.8% of the country's population. Roughly 3 million doses have been given to teenagers, while the rest have gone to adults. 

It is not yet known when booster shots would begin, as many provinces still have low full vaccination rates. 

This comes as daily COVID-19 case numbers rise again, with 12,429 domestic infections recorded on Thursday, the most since early September. 

Saigon continues to log the most new cases, but localities such as Can Tho and Tay Ninh are experiencing major surges. Some provinces have re-introduced social distancing measures such as curfews or banning in-person dining in an attempt to reduce the risk of transmission. 

Health officials have also advised that daily infection numbers are not the most important criteria given vaccination rates; instead, the number of deaths and severe cases are now the key data points. 

Yesterday, 164 deaths linked to COVID-19 were reported, largely among unvaccinated people or vaccinated individuals with underlying health conditions.

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