Myanmar readies to inoculate health workers as COVID-19 vaccine nears reality

File photo of Myanmar nurses. Photo: United Nations Population Fund
File photo of Myanmar nurses. Photo: United Nations Population Fund

Amid positive developments in the global search for a vaccine, the Health Department is polling Yangon hospitals for staff lists in preparation of administering it to health care workers.

Though no fully vetted vaccine is available yet, some hospital administrators said they were given a deadline of noon today to return their lists.

“We are just asking for a list first to see who needs to be vaccinated first, it was a request from the ministry,” said Win Maw Oo, director of pediatrics hospital in Yangon’s South Okkalapa township.

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He said that he listed 160 health care workers at his facility, even though it’s likely a preliminary measure as no vaccine has been approved or is ready for distribution.

Nonetheless, a meeting was held yesterday in Naypyidaw to discuss how the vaccine would be distributed.

Union Minister Myint Htwe, doctors, and health ministry reps said they have been in discussions with a vaccine advisory group that included medical physicians.

Than Naing Soe, health ministry spokesperson, said they need a good accounting of all health workers nationwide.

“They must all be pre-registered,” he said. “The Union Minister also told us to register and get vaccinated immediately once it’s available.”

Hopes for a viable vaccine have been boosted in recent days by promising reports. Pfizer said its vaccine candidate was found to be effective in over 90% of cases.

Myanmar is part of COVAX, an international effort to make an approved, safe vaccine widely and openly available throughout the world.

Aung Aung, head of the Nyaung Oo District Hospital outside of Mandalay, said they’ve been systematically assembling lists of their more than 320 workers to forward to the authorities.

COVID-19 infections have been surging domestically since August. As of today, the nation has recorded 64,453 infections, and 1,480 deaths since January.


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