Laos to expand COVID-19 vaccination to all citizens

This photograph taken on March 12, 2020 shows people eating street food in Vientiane. (Photo: AFP)

VIENTIANE, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Lao Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh has instructed authorities in charge to continue with the vaccination of target groups and to offer the vaccine to all other citizens.

He made the call in a statement issued on Monday, pledging that the government would accelerate the rollout of vaccinations to keep COVID-19 in check.

Phankham also called for stronger action to ward off the virus amid growing fears of an outbreak after a record number of imported cases were reported in recent days, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Wednesday.

In his statement, the prime minister said the Lao government would accelerate the inoculation of at least 22 percent of the population by 2021 but more would be better.

He called for the continuing vaccination of target groups and for the expansion of the program to include all groups of people. These comprise civil servants, officials, soldiers, police officers and teachers, as well as employees in shopping malls, hotels, restaurants and sports facilities, and traders and vendors.

Phankham said the Lao government would assist business operators or individuals who wish to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for their employees or other target groups.

As of April 12, more than 140,000 people have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while almost 28,000 people have the second jab, according to the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

The taskforce said the vaccines were safe with no reports of serious side effects following injections.

He called for people from all walks of life, including foreigners living in Laos, to remain vigilant and to strictly observe the prevention and control measures.

As of Wednesday, Laos confirmed 88 cases of COVID-19, with 39 people currently undergoing treatment for the virus across the country.