A senior Ministry of Health official has advised provincial administrations across the country to dispatch mobile medical teams to give booster shots to those living in rural areas, in addition to existing vaccination sites in districts.
Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said on February 8 while visiting vaccination sites in Kratie province that authorities have to set up mobile medical teams to inoculate people who may have difficulty travelling to get a booster shot.
“We will change the procedure and the formalities softly rather than sit around waiting for them to get vaccinated.
“The authorities and medical teams must work together in the spirit of solidarity and cooperation, and make arrangements to go look for [such people],” she added.
Among the new procedures, authorities in villages and communes will have to conduct a survey to find out how many people have yet to receive their booster dose. These individuals are to agree on a date with the medical team for vaccination at their local site.
Vandine, who is also head of the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, said she had observed that some people had yet to receive the booster dose because they lacked access to information concerning its necessity. Others, she found, had been busy with work.
“Some brothers and sisters think that they have been [fully] vaccinated already [after just one shot]. But because they do not understand how the second, third, or fourth dose is required, they seem to think that they need not be vaccinated anymore,” she said.
According to Vandine, a large number of people work agricultural jobs in rural areas, which has made it difficult for them to get their booster shot. But if they were properly informed as to its importance, she said, they would make time to travel and receive it promptly.
She urged relevant cooperating authorities to take the opportunity to educate locals, stressing that a single dose alone was not enough to prevent a serious outbreak.
She also reminded those who have yet to get their second or third shots to get vaccinated urgently in order to increase protection against the virus – especially those who are immunocompromised.
Nha Bunthorn, director of the Kampot provincial health department, said that mobile medical teams and local authorities have started to provide vaccinations to locals in the province’s communes since February 8.
Bunthorn noted that there has been high uptake of booster shots and cooperation between local authorities and health centres.
“Communes have cooperated with all 65 health centres in our province. Actually, we have spread this booster dose well within Kampot,” he said.
But he warned that the department was still failing to reach some locals. “[S]ome people are too busy to find the time to get vaccinated, and others think that Covid has disappeared because we’ve handled it well, so they are less careful,” he said.
Bunthorn said that Kampot provincial authorities have been increasing public health and safety messaging to remind locals to take extra precautions. He noted that some people had turned up at vaccination sites to get a booster dose as a result of the campaign.
According to the ministry, as of February 8 Cambodia has vaccinated nearly 90 per cent of its estimated 16 million population.