USAID Provides $1.5 Million for COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Support in Lao PDR
October 13, 2022, Vientiane, Lao PDR – On a visit to Sisattanak District Hospital today, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink announced an additional $1.5 Million USD to further increase COVID-19 vaccination rollout support. The funding is administered through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.
Ahead of the announcement, Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink joined Vice Minister of Health Dr. Snong Thongsna, U.S. Ambassador to Lao PDR Dr. Peter M. Haymond, WHO Representative Dr. Ying-Ru Lo, and UNICEF Officer in Charge David Duncan to observe COVID-19 vaccination efforts and discuss requirements to close vaccination gaps.
Dr. Thongsna thanked the United States and USAID for their expanding support for COVID-19 as well as vaccine contribution and rollout. “Protecting people against COVID-19, to safeguard communities, support economic recovery, and avoid disruptions to school and work is one of our top priorities,” said Dr. Thongsna. “This timely additional support from USAID will save lives, ensuring our communities across Laos understand the benefits of vaccination and can get vaccinated. We aren’t safe until our most vulnerable people are safe.”
Currently, 72 percent of the population have completed all doses of COVID-19 vaccine primary series, coming closer to the 80 percent target for 2022. However, only one in four of the elderly population, who are at the highest risk for COVID-19, have received their COVID-19 booster.
The funding will support vaccine delivery, community outreach, media campaigns and a range of other assistance to increase COVID-19 vaccine coverage, especially for vulnerable communities, elderly and people with disabilities. A key focus will be to assist the Ministry of Health (MOH) to mobilize health care workers to increase vaccination efforts, including door to door vaccinations to rural and vulnerable populations.
“Today’s announcement reaffirms the strong partnership, under the U.S. Lao Comprehensive Partnership, in combating COVID-19 and setting the foundation to build back better,” said Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink. “The additional $1.5 Million will assist the Government of Lao PDR to further support COVID-19 vaccination rollout to vulnerable and at-risk populations, including elderly people and people with disabilities as well as those in hard-to-reach areas.”
The funding is part of the U.S. Government’s COVID-19 support of over $16.7 million in support of vaccine rollout, in addition to its recent arrival of 201,600 doses of pediatric Pfizer vaccine through the COVAX facility, helping Lao PDR vaccinate children aged 5–11 and achieve its 80 percent vaccination target by the end of 2022. To date, the United States has provided over 2.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.
WHO’s Dr. Lo said, “We are deeply grateful for the steadfast support from the U.S. Government. We are not there yet, but the end of the pandemic is within reach. With efforts and commitment by families, communities and the health sector, we can ensure everyone is protected and recover together, safely. We ask: get vaccinated.”
All vaccines in use in Lao PDR have been approved by WHO and Ministry of Health, and are proven to be safe and effective in protecting people from severe illness due to COVID-19.
“Vaccines are safe and save lives, but, only by working together and ensuring everyone is vaccinated – children, isolated communities, our sick and elderly – can we consider the job finished,” said UNICEF’s Mr. Duncan. “We must make any and every effort to protect everyone across Lao PDR, particularly those most at-risk. This grant will help Lao PDR reach this vital goal.”
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.