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Vaccination drive for children may see schools reopen soon

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A boy gets vaccinated against Covid-19 at Koh Dach Health Centre in Koh Dach commune of Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district on Sunday. Hong Menea

Vaccination drive for children may see schools reopen soon

Cambodia kicked off its vaccination drive for children aged 12-17 on August 1, with the goal of reopening secondary school for the new academic year starting in September or October.

Speaking at the launch of vaccination campaign for children at the Peace Palace, Prime Minister Hun Sen said: “Vaccinations of children and adolescents will enable us to reopen schools and other educational institutions – at least at the secondary level – for the academic year 2021-2022 in October or September.”

In a bid to achieve herd immunity, the government plans to vaccinate the approximately two million people in the 12-17 age group with Chinese-made Sinovac vaccines, in addition to the targeted adult population of 10 million.

Cambodia closed schools across the country in March after the third community outbreak of Covid-19 began on February 20. Hun Sen said although online classes are being held, the quality is not the same.

According to the prime minister, vaccinations for the 12-17 age group also kicked off in the provinces of Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong and Kandal on August 1. He said once the children and adolescents are fully vaccinated, it will not only enable schools to reopen, but also prevent the spread of the virus to their community.

“The biggest concern in the world – at least for the Cambodian government and myself – is the loss of human resources we need to develop.

“Once teachers and students have been vaccinated the virus then poses us little concern. If there is transmission, the vaccine can help reduce the number infected and it will not cause severe illness, it will only be like the flu,” he said.

The Ministry of Health recently said that those ages 12-17 will receive the China-manufactured Sinovac vaccines.

Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport spokesman Ros Soveacha said recently that after children are fully vaccinated, schools will reopen step-by-step.

Pech Bolen, president of the Federation of Education Services in Cambodia, applauded the move to reopen the schools. Private educational institutions are ready to work with the ministry on reopening the schools in September or October, he said.

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