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Nov 20, 2021 / 21:00

Hanoi set to begin vaccinating children in coming days

Hanoi is ready to vaccinate children aged 12-17 in the safest, earliest and most effective manner.

More than 370,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine are expected to be available for Hanoi’s children aged below 18 in the next few days and these doses will be used up within two days.

Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Chu Ngoc Anh made his statement at a meeting with voters in Dong Da District this week.

The mayor said a campaign would begin once the doses are distributed, but that would depend on the Ministry of Health.

Hanoi has vaccinated 6.1 million people, or 93.5% of its adult population, with at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot. As many as 5.1 million people have received two shots, or 79% of the adult population, Anh added.

He noted that the contraction rate of close contacts of Covid-19 patients lately is staggeringly high, twice the rate recorded from the beginning of the pandemic to the end of October (around 8%).

Chairman of the Hanoi People's Committee Chu Ngoc Anh meets with voters in Dong Da District. Photo: The Hanoi Times

From November 11 to 17, Hanoi recorded around 8,630 close contact cases, with 1,134 eventually acquiring Covid-19, Anh said, stressing that it means even fully vaccinated individuals should keep their guards up, as vaccines alone would only help lessen severity, not reduce infection rates.

“The city will continue to handle the outbreaks quickly, strictly adhering to established guidelines and practices, and effectively implementing them. The communities need to intensify the inspection and severely punish violators of prevention rules," said the mayor.

Currently, all levels, sectors and locations have plans in place and are ready to vaccinate children aged 12-17 in the safest, earliest and most effective manner, as soon as they are allocated the vaccines in accordance with the  plan.

“Based on the amount of vaccines allocated, there is a plan for students to return to school. We would not wait until 2022 to let the children return to schools,” Ngoc Anh said.

Besides, Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Council Nguyen Ngoc Tuan told voters in Thanh Xuan District that in the coming time, the city will be provided with a source of Covid-19 vaccines to inject for students. Those vaccines will be sent to school in line with the schedule.

"The inoculation progress will also depend on the vaccine supply and the local pandemic situation. When the supply is insufficient, vaccines will be prioritized for the areas with new infections, high population density,  crowded places and schools, and busy business localities. Those adjacent to provinces with a complicated Covid-19 situation or home to concentrated quarantine sites will also receive vaccines first," Tuan said.

He added that the exact date for vaccination would depend on the Ministry of Health’s vaccine allocation for Hanoi. The goal is to vaccinate all children aged 12-17 in the city, prioritizing those aged 16-17 before moving down to other age groups. The immunization will be conducted simultaneously across the city.

Hanoi has set target to vaccinate over 95% of local children aged 12-17 by the end of the first quarter of 2022, Tuan noted.

The Hanoi Center for Disease Control (CDC) has listed around 700,000-850,000 children eligible for vaccination. If all students could study in-person at schools, they would be vaccinated at schools. Otherwise, they would get vaccinated at other facilities.

Some parents wonder whether their young children really need vaccines 

Addressing the question, Director of Hanoi Department of Health Tran Thi Nhi Ha told The Hanoi Times that vaccination always requires the consent from the vaccinated. For children, it depends on the commitment and consent from their guardians, and thus parents can decide whether or not let their children get the jab.

Currently, Vietnam has approved two types of Covid-19 vaccines, one by Pfizer and the other by Moderna, to vaccinate children aged 12-17.

However, many people fear that the vaccines using mRNA technology may intervene with human genes, especially small children. Vu Tat Dat in Nam Tu Liem District in Hanoi is one of them.

A student of Luong The Vinh High School in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City were vaccinated with Covid-19 vaccine on October 27. Photo: Phu Khanh

Dat said that children have their own resistance which can be strengthened with physical exercise, food and supplemental micronutrients. His two children rarely get sick. He doesn’t intend to have his children vaccinated in the coming days.

“I will make a decision on whether to vaccinate my children later, when there is more scientific research about the vaccines and when more vaccines receive approval from World Health Organization,” he said.

Hoang Thi Ngan Giang in Cau Giay District has also expressed concern that the vaccination may cause undesired effects on students.

“I think I won’t let my children get vaccinated in the first campaign. If unvaccinated students are not allowed to return to school, my children will study online,” she told The Hanoi Times.

Unlike Dat and Giang, Trinh Anh Dung, a parent in Nam Tu Liem District, said he hopes his daughter, a 10th grader, would be vaccinated as soon as possible.

“My daughter went to school and extra classes last year, and has been learning online for the last few months. She doesn’t have opportunities to communicate and go out. The vaccinations will allow her to return to a normal life," Dung said.

Hoang Bui Hai, head of the Emergency and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Department of the Hanoi Medical University Hospital said he is not concerned about the safety of vaccines.

“I believe that the ministry thoroughly considered before deciding which vaccines would be used for teens. Many countries in the world are also vaccinating children to ensure a safe return to school,” Hai said.

“What worries me now is the physical and mental health condition of children who have had to study online for a long time, not the rumors about the side effects of vaccines,” he added.

Tran Thi Khanh Ly, a nurse living in Cau Giay District said she will let her child, a ninth grader, get vaccinated.

“Children cannot stay at home forever. They need to go out and return to their normal lives. It will be safer to go out if they are fully vaccinated,” Ly said.

Nguyen Quang Tung, principal of the Hanoi-based Lomonosov Education System, told The Hanoi Times that parents and students have the right to decide whether to get vaccinated.

“Unvaccinated students also have the right to return to school. The Ministry will decide on the required percentage of vaccinated students for schools to be able to reopen,” Tung said.

Asked if the unvaccinated students can return to school or not, the principal noted that the Vietnamese Government’s policy is to vaccinate all children aged 12-17 to ensure a safe returning to schools.