The HCM City Department of Health has sought approval from the Ministry of Health to reduce the time between two AstraZeneca COVID-19 shots from the usual eight to 12 weeks down to six weeks to speed up immunisation.
A person in HCM City receives a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine in June. The city wants to reduce the time between two AstraZeneca shots to speed up its immunisation efforts.
The city has speeded up vaccination for people aged 18 and above, administering around 200,000 doses every day in the last five days.
It targets vaccinating its entire adult population by September 15, and giving everyone their second shot by the end of the year.
AstraZeneca is the most common vaccine used in HCM City, with over 4.8 million doses given so far, followed by Vero Cell with over 1.9 million.
Around 6.5 million people, or around 90 per cent of the city’s adult population, have received shots.
According to the World Health Organisation, AstraZeneca doses should be given eight to 12 weeks apart since longer intervals have been found to be associated with greater vaccine efficacy.
When the first batch of AstraZeneca arrived in Vietnam frontline medical workers were given the shots within four to six weeks because of their great infection risk, Dr Truong Huu Khanh, former head of the infectious and neurological diseases department at HCM City’s Children’s Hospital No.1.
The city is currently Vietnam’s COVID epicentre with more than 298,000 cases. It is monitoring the treatment of more than 100,000 patients in hospitals or at home.
It will continue its social distancing orders under Directive No. 16, originally mandated until September 15, until the end of this month. But certain districts which have managed to control the pandemic such as Cần Giờ and Củ Chi might be subjected to fewer restrictions.
The city had originally targeted controlling the pandemic by September 15, but Nguyen Van Nen, secretary of its Party Committee, has asked for two more weeks to achieve this goal.
Two more weeks would help reduce the number of patients under treatment, and give time for vaccinated people to develop immunity, he added.