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HÀ NỘI – The capital city has started reviewing and making lists for vaccinations of children aged 3 and above.
However, many parents are expressing concerns on whether or not the registration is mandatory.
Addressing these questions, Trần Thị Nhị Hà, Director of Hà Nội Department of Health, said the Ministry of Health (MoH) was planning to inoculate children against COVID-19, however there are not yet detailed guidelines on the age range, types of vaccines, and timeline.
For Hà Nội, although age 3 is still in the vaccination age, the city cannot inoculate children of 3 years old yet and will deploy the possible vaccination programme for those aged 12 to 17 only, according to the Director of Hà Nội Department of Health. "That is possibly the case, as there is yet to be a specific guideline from the MoH. But in the immediate future, the MoH's direction is to inoculate children age 12 and older," Hà said.
"Vaccination always requires prescription and consent from the vaccinated. For children, it depends on the commitment and consent from their guardians, and thus parents can decide whether or not their children will get the jab," said Hà.
According to Khổng Minh Tuấn, Deputy Director of Hà Nội Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the child vaccination programme is expected to be deployed with ease, as there are fewer than one million children aged 12 to 17 in the city. Vaccination sites will be at schools or at each locality, depending on whether students have come back to school or not.
"Everything is ready for the child vaccination programme. The thing is we don’t know when the vaccine supply will arrive and which types will be given to children," said Tuấn.
Mixed reactions from parents
Several parents have expressed concern that there is insufficient research data on vaccinating children, while others worry that the vaccines could have long-term side effects.
"Our family practises hygiene and the 5K measures, takes vitamin supplements and exercises every day to strengthen our immune systems," said Nguyễn Văn Long from Tân Bình District, HCM City. "If getting the jab is voluntary then I would prefer my children to not be inoculated now and wait a little more, when research results on vaccination for children is available, and approval granted by the World Health Organisation (WHO).”
Meanwhile, other parents are excited at the news, believing the vaccination will allow children to head outside and protect them from severe illness should they happen to catch the virus. "I think the MoH will have taken careful considerations before deciding which vaccines would be approved for use on children. The neighbouring countries have also started their child vaccination programme so students can return to school," said Lê Thị Ánh Vân, a parent from District 3, HCM City. "For me, what's more worrying is the kids' physical and mental health when having to studying online for an extended period of time, not speculations about the vaccine effects."
According to Ngô Thị Minh, Deputy Minister of Education and Training (MoET), the Government's direction is to vaccinate children age 12 to 17 so they could safely return to school, as it would get incredibly complicated once there is an outbreak. The MoET will look into the matter and consult with the MoH on whether to have unvaccinated children return to school at the same time as the rest.
Đỗ Xuân Tuyên, Deputy Minister of Health announced earlier that Việt Nam would start giving COVID-19 vaccines to children between 12 and 17 years old starting October, in oldest-to-youngest age order. The vaccination progress will also depend on the supply and the situation at each locality.
It is expected that 95 per cent of the 8.1 million children aged 12 to 17 in the country will be fully inoculated by April 2022. Expert consultation is also being conducted in preparation for vaccination in children aged 3 to 11.
The MoH and its experts are still assessing vaccination safety for children. While it is not yet clear which vaccines will be used in this programme, a MoH representative stated that the vaccines going to be used are those that have been approved by the ministry for this age range, according to the instruction of the manufacturers and the ministry. — VNS
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