Lao PDR Commences Rollout of COVAX Supported COVID-19 Vaccines

The Government of Lao PDR deploys its mass vaccination plan targeting the most vulnerable and at-risk groups in a step towards ending the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vientiane, 2 April 2021 - Lao PDR today commences its national rollout of COVAX supported COVID-19 vaccines through a mass vaccination session organised at the Mittaphab Hospital. The mass vaccination session will be taking place over the span of two days, from 2 to 3 April, and is focused on providing immunisation to around 4,000 individuals categorised as being at the greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19 and those who are most likely to develop severe symptoms from infection. After this initial push the vaccines will be administered in seven central hospitals in Vientiane capital and at provincial level.

The vaccines used during the mass vaccination were recently shipped to Lao PDR on 20 March through the COVAX Facility, a partnership between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and consist of 132,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII). This shipment is the first of Lao PDR's initial allocation of 480,000 doses.  COVAX aspires to provide enough vaccine supply to cover at least 20% of the population in this year.

“This mass vaccination with the first batch of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines supported by COVAX is another critical step for Lao PDR in the country’s goal of ending the acute phase of the pandemic,” stated H.E. Dr. Phouthone Muangpak, Vice Minister of Health. “To successfully end this pandemic, all of us will need to do our part. It is vital that those who are listed as the most vulnerable and at-risk groups get vaccinated so that we can protect our community against COVID-19,” he emphasised.

According the country’s National Deployment and Vaccination Plan (NVDP), the priority groups in the country who are at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 and those who are most likely to develop severe symptoms from infection include frontline healthcare workers, older adults above the age of 60 and people with underlying health conditions. Some essential workers will also be prioritised based on the nature of the job and high-risk of exposure to COVID-19 such as workers at points of entry and in quarantine centres and diplomatic staff.

“No country is safe from COVID-19 unless every country is protected, and vaccines are the key to achieving this. These COVID-19 vaccines have been carefully reviewed by WHO and assessed for quality, safety and efficacy,” stated Dr. Mark Jacobs, WHO Representative to Lao PDR. “I would like to congratulate the Government of Lao PDR for their efficiency and swiftness in organising this mass vaccination session, only shortly after receiving the latest shipment of COVID-19 vaccines supported by COVAX,” Dr. Jacobs added.

The vaccines that will be used in Lao PDR have gone through rigorous development and safety testing procedures, where the Ministry of Health's Food and Drug Department has assessed the evidence, benefits and risks. The AstraZeneca vaccine licensed to Serum Institute of India provided through COVAX was authorised for emergency use by the Ministry of Health on 22 February, after being listed for emergency use by WHO on 15 February.

"UNICEF is proud to be playing a major role in procuring COVID-19 vaccines for Lao PDR through the COVAX facility with the support of partners. It brings me joy to see how the vaccines that we have worked tirelessly to procure are now being used by Lao PDR to take another important step towards ending the pandemic and for the good health of all," stated Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF Representative to Lao PDR. “UNICEF alongside our sister agency, WHO, will continue to work closely and provide our technical expertise to the Government of Lao PDR to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in the country,” Dr. Britto further added.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Visith Khamlusa, Director of the Center of Communication and Education for Health, +856 20 2250 2862, vkhamlusa@yahoo.com

Maria Fernandez, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Lao PDR, +856 20 5551 9681, mfernandez@unicef.org

Mr. Vanaseng Insal, Communication Consultant, WHO Lao PDR, +856 21 353 902, insalv@who.int

Media Contacts
UN entities involved in this initiative
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund
WHO
World Health Organization