Health departments, hospitals and universities nationwide that have been assigned to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to people in Việt Nam must not collect any charges for the vaccination, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Tuesday.
A man prepares for a COVID-19 vaccination in Hanoi's Thanh Xuan District.
The ministry asked agencies to review and inspect COVID-19 vaccinations at their facilities after local media reported violations in which people had paid money to get vaccinated early.
The Government has announced that COVID-19 vaccinations are free to every citizen as well as foreigners who are living, working and studying in the country.
COVID-19 vaccine shots must be provided to eligible people safely, effectively and free of charge, the ministry said in a message sent on Tuesday to agencies assigned to offer vaccinations.
The agencies were asked to not receive money by any means, even commissions offered by individuals or organisations.
Earlier this month at a meeting on national COVID-19 vaccination drives, Deputy Health Minister Đỗ Xuân Tuyên confirmed that Việt Nam was providing free vaccinations.
“Agencies that are providing COVID-19 vaccinations must not collect any charges relating to the vaccination, even when individuals or organisations want to cover vaccination costs,” he said.
Last Saturday, HCM City’s Investigation Police Force launched criminal proceeding against a woman who earned over VNĐ 60 million after illegally arranging COVID-19 vaccinations for 21 people.
Lê Thị Kim Dung, 32, was put under investigation for her alleged "abuse of influence over an office holder for personal gain," the city’s police said.
Dung had used the Facebook account Kim Zunf to promote the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations. She said she used her "personal connections" to source COVID-19 vaccines for people from non-prioritized groups in District 11.
She admitted to police that she provided the vaccination service to 21 people, charging each VNĐ2-4 million, and earning over VNĐ60 million in total.
Fast customs clearance urged for imported COVID-19 vaccines
The National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology has asked for as-soon-as-possible customs clearance for imported batches of Pfizer vaccines.
The institute called for support from relevant agencies including the HCM City Customs, Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport Customs Division, and the city’s transport and health department.
According to the institute, it expects to receive more than 31 million doses of Pfizer vaccines made in Belgium this year. More than 1.2 million doses of the vaccine have arrived in Việt Nam since the first batch arrived on July 7.
The institute has committed to completing all required procedures to import the vaccine. However, vaccine storage during transportation and customs examination must meet strict regulations to not affect the quality of the vaccine.
The institute has now asked for assistance of relevant agencies to ensure proper conditions for the vaccine, for example, the right temperature and dry ice to store the vaccine, and for no physical examinations except those urgently requested by authorities.
If a vaccine batch is opened for inspection, the inspection must not exceed three minutes.
Việt Nam’s health ministry has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine that is made in Belgium and Germany, for domestic emergency use since June 12.
On August 21, Việt Nam approved the Pfizer vaccine made in the US, for emergency use.
On Monday, the US Food and Drug Administration approved its first COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, and will now be marketed as Comirnaty, for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older.
The vaccine will also continue to be available under emergency use authorization, including for individuals aged from 12 to 15 years, and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.