The Covid-19 vaccination campaign for students in Phnom Penh began on February 6, with 32 teams from the Samdech Techo Voluntary Youth Doctor Association (TYDA) planning to administer booster shots to more than 200,000 of them.

Or Vandine, secretary of state at the Ministry of Health and head of the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, inspected the first day of the campaign.

The inoculations are being administered at two high schools: Chea Sim Santhormok and Indradevi.

Vandine also reminded the public of importance of Covid-19 vaccination, saying it is intended to protect an individual’s life from the disease.

“Boosters need to be kept up to date, as the immune system can weaken within if four to six months of the most recent jab,” she noted.

“That is why the World Health Organisation [WHO] recommends booster shots. We carefully assessed the principles of extra vaccinations before we introduced the policy,” she added.

She appealed to the parents and guardians of students to make sure their children’s vaccinations were kept up to date.

“We are now administering the sixth dose. Following this sixth shot, we will still need to receive more [boosters], just like we get the flu vaccine,” she said.

“This means that around six months or so after they have had the sixth, people should go in for another. Even though we will not be campaigning, they will still be available at health centres across the Kingdom,” she explained.

She urged members of the public with a chronic illness and the elderly to come forward and be vaccinated, and reassured the elderly and the infirm that they were eligible for the jab.

“People suffering from illnesses are even more in need of the vaccine because their immune systems are likely to be weakened by their existing condition,” she said.

The booster campaign is being carried out under the recommendation of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who wants to maintain the sustainable development of the country, under the new normal, according to Vandine.

Through the current school campaign, up to 239,863 students will receive shots. The campaign will run from February 6 to March 4.

Sim Sokchan, vice-president of TYDA, said the volunteer groups have been divided into 32 groups, each with five medics.

He said each of the groups would aim to vaccinate around 280 students per day.

“The 160 medics of the 32 teams should be able to administer almost 9,000 vaccines per day, so we expect to reach around 240,000 students by the end of the campaign,” he added.

According to the health ministry, as of February 5, over 95per cent of the Kingdom’s estimated population of around 16 million had received Covid-19 vaccinations.