PHNOM PENH: Cambodia began vaccinating children aged between six and 11 on Friday (Sep 17) so that students can safely return to schools that have been closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Hun Sen inaugurated the campaign to vaccinate the children, speaking live on state television and his Facebook page as his grandchildren and young family members of other senior officials were shown being given their jabs.
“To protect children’s health and their lives is our duty because we want to make sure that once they go back to their schools, these children and their teachers are safe from COVID-19,” Hun Sen declared.
Cambodia has already been vaccinating older children, and Hun Sen said that he ordered health officials to study if children aged between three and five can also be vaccinated.
Nearly 72 per cent of Cambodia’s almost 17 million people have received at least one COVID-19 shot since vaccinations began in February. China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines account for most inoculations.
Hun Sen said that Cambodia’s priority in recovering from the pandemic is reopening the education sector, followed by allowing service industries, including domestic tourism, to resume activities.
He said that Cambodia is considering reopening to fully vaccinated foreign tourists in the near future. The tourism sector is vitally important for the country’s economy, he said, and Chinese visitors are expected to be the biggest group of arrivals once Cambodia reopens.
Hun Sen said that while Cambodia’s rate of infections continues to be high, it appears to be slowing due to vaccination levels, which are higher than most other countries in Southeast Asia.
Cambodia’s Health Ministry on Friday reported 698 new infections and 11 deaths, adding to the nation's totals of 102,834 cases and 2,089 deaths from COVID-19.