Australia provides more vaccines to help protect Lao children from COVID-19
The bilateral contribution of around 500,000 doses of pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines from Australia to Lao PDR will help ensure children are able to continue learning at school.
Vientiane, 28 September 2022 – A delegation from the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) of Lao PDR, the Australian Embassy in Vientiane and UNICEF visited a primary school in Vientiane Capital today to observe the vaccination of school children for the first times using the pediatric COVID-19 vaccines supported by Australia.
The latest bilateral contribution from Australia to Lao PDR consists of around 500,000 doses of the Pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which will be prioritised for use among children aged 5-11 years old in Lao PDR. This is in addition to over one million doses of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines delivered earlier this year.
“The Government of Lao PDR would like to thank the Australian Government for yet another important contribution to Lao PDR’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign,” remarked H.E. Dr. Sanong Thongsana, Vice Minister of Health. He reiterated that all COVID-19 vaccines currently being used in Lao PDR are safe and effective, and have been approved by MoH.
Speaking at event, the Vice Minister of Education and Sports, H.E. Ms. Khanthaly Siriphongphanh, also emphasised the timeliness of the arrival of these vaccines. “The arrival of these vaccines is timely as the Government of Lao PDR ramps up its efforts to vaccinate children against COVID-19, especially school age children, providing them with additional protection against the virus during the new school semester 2022-2023, as well as contributing to the overall protection of Lao society from the virus,” stated H.E. Ms. Khanthaly Siriphongphanh.
H.E. Mr. Paul Kelly, the Australian Ambassador to Lao PDR, also highlighted the strong diplomatic relations between Australia and Lao PDR during the pandemic. “Australia is committed to standing with Laos to respond to the challenges brought about by COVID-19. This year, Australia and Laos are celebrating the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Our commitment to Laos’s development is as strong today as it was 70 years ago.”
Australia has committed more than AUD22 million between 2020 to 2023 to support the Lao Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide access to safe and effective vaccines. In addition to the vaccine support, Australia is also providing technical assistance to support vaccine delivery through UNICEF, WHO, NGOs and providing expert health advice from Australian institutions to augment Laos’ national vaccination program.
“Australia is pleased to support the Lao Government’s National Deployment and Vaccination Plan. This latest contribution now builds upon the strong diplomatic relations that exist between the Australian and Lao people, and it is our hope that these vaccines will help protect more Lao children across the country” H.E. Paul Kelly added.
In addition to partners like Australia, UNICEF has also been working closely with the MoH and MoES to raise awareness about pediatric vaccines and COVID-19 vaccination among communities. Moreover, UNICEF is helping to build the capacity of the MoH staff to effectively communicate with communities on the risks of COVID-19.
“Vaccinating children against COVID-19 is one of the main tools at our disposal to hasten the global recovery from the pandemic. Children were among the hardest hit by the pandemic as they lost hours of learning from the temporary school closures, reversing the overall progress made so far in education. Getting children vaccinated will help ensure they are safer in schools during the new school year, so that they can get the education they deserve for a brighter future. To achieve that, equitable access to vaccines is also key and we must ensure that vaccination is within reach of all in Lao PDR, including children, because no one is safe until everyone is safe,” said Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF Representative Lao PDR.
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