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Over 60% of Vietnamese parents give consent to Covid-19 vaccination for children aged 5-11: MoH’s survey

Vaccination for children aged 5-11 years would be on a recommendation basis and safety would be the highest priority.

Around 60.6% of Vietnamese parents with children aged 5-11 said they agree to let their kids get Covid-19 vaccine shots, according to a survey by the Ministry of Health (MoH).

The survey on 415,000 parents of children aged under 12, whose results were released on February 9, was conducted as a requirement from the Vietnamese Government in preparation for the rollout of Covid-19 vaccine for young children, after Vietnam reached a high coverage  in the population aged 12 and older.

Besides the respondents saying yes to the vaccines, 7.6% stated they would only allow their children to get vaccinated when the shots are mandatory, 29.1% said they are considering or undecided, and 1.9% said they disagreed with vaccinating their children.

The survey was carried out in all 63 localities of Vietnam by the Health Strategy and Policy Institute under the MoH. Other details of the survey were not made available.

“The figures in the survey mean some parents do not trust the scientific community. Disinformation is rampant and represents an obstacle in the coronavirus fight,” said Pham Quang Thai, head of the Expanded Immunization Office in the North under the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.

 Students receive Covid-19  vaccine shots at a high school in Hanoi's Dong Da District in late November 2021. Photo: Linh Duong/The Hanoi Times

Echoing Thai, Duong Thi Hong, deputy director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, noted that medical authorities need to communicate better on Covid-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness so that parents would be encouraged to vaccinate their kids.

“Children aged 5-11 would also benefit from herd immunity through high vaccination coverage, like the 12-17 age group, which has a vaccine coverage of 95%,” Hong said.

She added that all information on the vaccination will be made available to parents to raise awareness, boost willingness and allow parents to better accompany health workers in monitoring child health after receiving the vaccines.

The MoH has not announced a timeline and about how many children aged 5-11 would be vaccinated yet. Vietnam will administer Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to this age group, with the Government recently approving a decision to purchase nearly 22 million doses of the vaccine.

Health minister Nguyen Thanh Long said the rollout will likely starts within the first quarter when the vaccines are delivered, but no exact information on the timeline and number of children expected to get the shots have been made available.

“It is not obligatory to vaccinate children against Covid-19. Vaccination for children aged 5-11 years would be on a recommendation basis and safety would be the highest priority,” Long stressed.

He added that his ministry would provide training for health workers at all levels on pediatric vaccination, while guidelines will be issued with regards to safe practices and addressing post-vaccination side effects as well as medical observation.

The vaccine rollout to children aged 5-11 years will be conducted similarly to the past administration of shots to minors aged 11-17 years, meaning school-attending children will be vaccinated at their schools, while the remaining would be injected at local medical stations.

Children with underlying health issues and chronic conditions will be vaccinated at hospitals to guarantee safety, Long noted.

Speaking at a conference on January 20, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said that the vaccination campaign for children aged 5-11 should be studied and assessed carefully.

It is necessary to learn from the experience of other countries that have completed their child vaccination campaigns to ensure the safety of children, the prime minister said, assigning health agencies to study and plan the vaccination for children from 5-11 years with a view to reopen schools across the country as soon as possible.

Some 44 countries in the world have vaccinated children aged 5-11 years against Covid-19, with 75% using the Pfizer vaccine, according to the MoH, which is completing procurement procedures with the US pharmaceutical company.

As of February 10, 16.3 million Pfizer vaccine shots have been administered to children aged 12-17 years in Vietnam, including 7.86 million second doses. Over 95% of children in this age group had received at least one dose of vaccine by late January.