Cambodia vaccinates children aged 6 to 11 for school


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) – Cambodia on Friday began immunizing children aged 6 to 11 so students can safely return to schools that have been closed for months due to the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Hun Sen kicked off the childhood immunization campaign, speaking live on state television and on his Facebook page as his grandchildren and young family members of other senior officials received their blows.

“Protecting the health and lives of children is our duty because we want to make sure that once they return to their schools, these children and their teachers are safe from COVID-19,” Hun Sen said.

Cambodia has already vaccinated older children, and Hun Sen said he has ordered health officials to investigate whether children between the ages of 3 and 5 can also be vaccinated. No date has been announced for the schools to reopen.

Almost 72% of Cambodia’s approximately 17 million people have received at least one injection of COVID-19 since vaccinations began in February. Chinese vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm account for most of the inoculations.

Hun Sen, 69, who was fully vaccinated and received a booster on Tuesday, said Cambodia’s priority to recover from the pandemic was to reopen the education sector and then allow service industries, including domestic tourism, to resume operations.

He said Cambodia plans to reopen to fully vaccinated foreign tourists in the near future. The tourism sector is vitally important to the country’s economy, he said, and Chinese visitors are expected to be the largest group of arrivals once Cambodia reopens.

Hun Sen said that although the rate of coronavirus infections in Cambodia remains high, it appears to be slowing due to vaccination levels, which are higher than in most other countries in Southeast Asia.

Cambodia’s health ministry on Friday reported 698 new cases and 11 deaths, adding to the national total of 102,834 cases and 2,089 deaths from COVID-19.

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