He made the remarks during a meeting of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Hanoi on March 5, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam.
Long emphasized the need to strictly observe the “Vaccine + 5K” message: khau trang (facemasks), khu khuan (disinfecting), khoang cach (distancing), khong tu tap (no gatherings), and khai bao y te (health declarations).
He added that access to vaccines faces various obstacles due to huge demand amid limited supply.
While Pfizer’s vaccine is more than 90 percent effective and the two jabs of the AstraZeneca vaccine are 76 percent and 81 percent effective, this also shows that people can still catch the virus after being vaccinated, hence the need to continue following the 5K message, Long explained.
Vietnam is among 92 countries to receive vaccines through the COVAX Facility in the first phase. COVAX mainly uses the AstraZeneca vaccine, providing 5 million doses to the country this year and with 25 million set to arrive in 2022.
The minister also refuted remarks from some companies saying they can provide AstraZeneca vaccine, confirming that all types of vaccine must receive approval from the Ministry of Health (MoH).
Vaccinations using the recently-imported AstraZeneca are expected to begin on March 8, under Government Resolution No 21.
More than 117,600 doses of the vaccine manufactured in the Republic of Korea arrived in Vietnam on February 24.
The MoH has devised a procedure to keep a close watch on immunized people through electronic health records, he said.
Nguyen Dac Vinh, Deputy Chief of the Office of the Party Central Committee, said the idea that vaccines can fully tackle the pandemic should be repudiated, and preventive measures must still be observed to reduce the risk of community infection.
Members of the Steering Committee directed the vaccination campaign to ensure equitable access, with vaccination to be rolled out in a prompt and cautious manner. They also underlined the need to stay prepared to deal with any problems encountered during the campaign.
For his part, Dam, who is also head of the Committee, underlined that Vietnam has been successful in curbing the spread of the pandemic even before any vaccine was approved.
Therefore, in the time to come, relevant agencies need to take the initiative in battling COVID-19 by following the 5K message along with vaccinations, which are a new weapon in the fight.