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Kids’ jabs to be voluntary, with consent of guardians

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A boy under the age of 12 gets vaccinated against Covid-19 in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district on Friday. Heng Chivoan

Kids’ jabs to be voluntary, with consent of guardians

Vaccinations for children aged 6 to 11 have reached over 14 per cent of that population in just two days after kicking off on September 17.

According to the Ministry of Health’s report, 276,686 children of the 6-11 age group of 1,897,382 across the country had been vaccinated with their first doses as of September 18.

During the launch of the campaign on Friday, Hun Sen affirmed that Covid-19 vaccinations for children were on a voluntary basis.

“We’re sticking to a voluntary vaccination policy because some children’s health conditions aren’t strong enough. I have three grandchildren who have not received jabs yet because doctors need to monitor their health first,” he said.

The prime minister said Covid-19 vaccinations for children require parental consent, thereby obliging medical workers to interview their parents or guardians and adding another layer to the process.

He noted, however, that in the foreseeable future this will no longer be an issue as the health ministry plans to add Covid-19 jabs to its standard regimen of vaccines for children.

“Covid-19 vaccinations will become obligatory,” he said, adding that Covid jabs will be 13th on the list of vaccines required for children.

Hun Sen also suggested that the national Covid-19 vaccination committee and senior medical specialists further study the possibility of vaccinating Cambodia’s 915,046 children aged 3-5 and present a detailed report to him once the study is finished.

“We may need around two million doses to vaccinate them,” he said, adding that the aim is to eventually reopen schools at all levels across the country.

He noted that Cambodia is not the only country vaccinating children against Covid-19, noting that other nations including China, Cuba, the United Arab Emirates, Peru, El Salvador, Germany and Bahrain had already done so while the US and Israel are conducting further studies.

“We need to move ahead to protect our children . . . This will enable them to go to school and it would be safer for both the children and their teachers,” he said.

Hun Sen also commented on an Australia-based media outlet’s report that Phnom Penh could achieve the highest rate of vaccinations in comparison to the rest of the world’s major cities, saying this was made possible by the government’s clear strategy for vaccines management and distribution.

“I want to stress that if there was no clear control and management of the vaccines, they would have been distributed here and there [disorderly]. It is not our close relations with China [alone] that enables us to accomplish such a high rate of vaccinations compared to other cities around the world,” he said.

Cambodia, he said, has adopted a blossoming strategy, which kicks off in the capital and neighbouring provinces before expanding to other parts of the country in order of priority. Through this strategy, he said the Kingdom will be able to achieve herd immunity as planned.

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