I hope that everyone, regardless of age or being rich or poor, can get vaccinated for COVID-19 soon
A story of COVID-19 vaccination from Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
Being on the frontline against the latest and most serious wave of COVID-19 infections to hit Viet Nam, Lam Thuy Huynh understands the intensifying impacts on people as well as the importance of being vaccinated.
“Many people are unemployed and increasingly poor because of the pandemic,” said the 35-year-old hospital staff member, who lives in Ho Chi Minh City. This southern metropolis is also the epicentre of the fourth wave that emerged from late April, 2021 and has yet to be brought under control. To date (August 10, 2021), Viet Nam had recorded more than 220,000 COVID-19 infections and 3,700 deaths, most of which were new infections from this latest wave (99 per cent).
“Ho Chi Minh City is under social distancing, so my family mainly lives in our apartment. I am hospital staff, so I still go to work every day. Most essential goods are ordered online and delivered to our door,” said Huynh. “Previously, we used to go to the supermarket and go out for meals on weekends. Now I have to cook for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s a little bit tiring, but a must,” she said with a smile.
Currently, Ho Chi Minh City has the highest number of COVID-19 infections and deaths nationwide (58 per cent of infections, 80 per cent of deaths). Life, work and activities of people in the city are greatly affected. Goods are scarce as the supply is limited by social distancing regulations for pandemic prevention and control. Like many of the city’s nine million residents, Huynh is worried about the future - yet also resilient and adapting to the new normal.
“If it was a year ago, I would be quite worried and scared. But this is the second year of COVID. I am used to this new lifestyle and always take precautions for my family and myself. I am definitely very tired, but my husband and mother-in-law have got my back, so everything is under control,” she said.
As a prioritized hospital staff member, she received two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine provided by the COVAX Facility with UNICEF’s support and distributed by Viet Nam’s Ministry of Health.
 COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.
As a mother of two daughters, Huynh believed that getting vaccinated for COVID-19 would help protect not only herself, but also her family and other people in the community.
“I know about the protection effectiveness of vaccines, If you are vaccinated and you get COVID, the possibility of getting worse is very low, the symptoms are mild and there is also a lower risk of transmission to community,” she said.
In Viet Nam, the government is rolling out a robust public information campaign to ensure people receive full information about vaccines through the mass media such as TV, online newspapers and at vaccination sites.
“I have complete information about vaccines. My family gets information mainly through TV programmes and online newspapers. In my opinion, nowadays, online information channels or TV are very effective because most people stay at home all the time and use these channels frequently,” she said.
While some people were concerned at potential side effects of vaccines, Huynh understood the essential benefits of getting vaccinated.
“I just wish there were enough vaccines for people in Ho Chi Minh City in August and September, at least one dose [the first of two] for each person.”
This wish is not just common in the city, but also nationwide. In response, UNICEF Viet Nam is supporting the Vietnamese Government to provide sufficient vaccines for 20 per cent of Viet Nam’s population by 2022 through the COVAX facility. In addition to COVAX, the Ministry of Health has contacted domestic and international vaccine manufacturers to discuss bilateral agreements on vaccine procurement to ensure adequate supply for at least 70 per cent of the country’s population.
“I know that UNICEF is working hard to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to the whole world, including Viet Nam. I believe UNICEF has enough experienced personnel to support provision of vaccines to Viet Nam and especially Ho Chi Minh City so we can protect ourselves as soon as possible,” Huynh concluded.
UNICEF Viet Nam’s COVID-19 response
During 2021-2023, aside from supporting provision of vaccines for 20 per cent of Viet Nam’s population, UNICEF will provide technical and financial assistance to the Ministry of Health to deploy COVID-19 vaccinations nationwide. This cooperation programme focuses on supply and installation of cold chain equipment required to enhance storage and transportation of vaccines and training to improve the capacity of the health network and vaccination system. It also supports the organization of vaccination campaigns, including vaccination sessions in disadvantaged areas and communication about the importance of vaccines, building trust and increasing demand for vaccinations against COVID-19.
To date (August 10, 2021), UNICEF Viet Nam has helped provide Viet Nam with more than nine million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility, accounting for nearly a quarter of all vaccines committed by UNICEF and nearly half of all vaccines Viet Nam has received from all sources.
Detailed information about UNICEF and its role in supporting provision of vaccines and equipment for COVID-19 vaccinations can be found here