Phnom Penh Vaccinations to Be Finished This Month: Health Ministry

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People queue for vaccines on the street in front of Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey primary school on May 11, 2021. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)

Phnom Penh’s vaccination campaign will be finished this month as progress has been faster than planned, the Health Ministry said, with districts reporting vaccination rates that project to more than half of their populations having received first doses on average.

The military is carrying out public vaccinations in six districts — Dangkao, Kambol, Meanchey, Pur Senchey, Russei Keo, Toul Kork — where first-dose vaccination rates range from 39 to 143 percent based on the official 2019 census and Defense Ministry figures for June 1.

Pur Senchey district deputy governor Ith Chumnith, however, gave different numbers for both vaccinations and the population.

He said on Wednesday that more than 210,000 people in Pur Senchey had received first doses — less than the Defense Ministry’s 313,381 figure. The district had 280,405 people, he said, higher than the census’s 226,971.

He ended the interview before he could be asked about the discrepancy.

“We are continuing to vaccinate and we will finish the remaining numbers,” Chumnith said. He asked that people continue to take health precautions to prevent the transmission of Covid-19.

“It is effective after we get two doses, but [we] need to protect. It does not mean that after having vaccinated two doses, [we] will not get infected.”

DistrictCensus PopulationVaccinated
Pur Senchey*226,971313,381
Russei Keo*274,861106,550
Toul Kork*145,57081,025
Chbar Ampov**164,37970,000
Prampi Makara**71,09221,695
* Vaccination numbers from the Defense Ministry
** Vaccination numbers from district administrations

Five other districts have begun vaccination campaigns administered by local authorities, and the three remaining districts are expected to start within weeks.

Chroy Changva district deputy governor Leng Ravong said his district was still waiting for approval to start from City Hall.

“We have sent the numbers of people who have yet to be vaccinated to Phnom Penh municipality already, and are waiting for a plan from the Phnom Penh municipality to follow,” Ravong said.

In Prampi Makara, district economic bureau chief Nob Vanna said 31,850 people had applied to be vaccinated, and 21,695 had received their first doses. More than 40,000 people in the district were eligible, but some were military families already vaccinated, though he did not have exact figures, he said. 

According to the census, the district has 71,092 people — coming out to 45 percent having applied for vaccines and at least 31 percent receiving first doses so far.

“The first day, more than 2,000 people were vaccinated, and on the second and third days it reached more than 3,000 people,” he said. More than 1,000 people were now getting vaccinated a day, Vanna said.

“People are happy to be vaccinated … the campaign goes fast,” he said. There were no particular challenges, though some people from outside the district had asked to be vaccinated, he added.

“Now, our campaign will continue in three more districts and we will reduce more fear,” Vanna said.

Chbar Ampov district governor Cheng Monira said first doses would be done by June 7, and second doses carried out from June 8 to 21.

His district had about 100,000 people over 18 years old and eligible to be vaccinated, and 70,000 were already vaccinated at around 8,000 shots a day, he said.

The district has a population of 164,379, according to the census.

Earlier this week, Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine told Hun Mana’s Bayon TV that vaccinations were progressing rapidly.

“Currently, I would like to inform [you] that the speed of vaccination is faster than our plan,” she said.

It was expected that a group of 10 medical staff could vaccinate 200 people a day, but in practice, they had been able to vaccinate up to 800 a day — in some cases 1,000, she said.

Vaccination in Phnom Penh could be finished by the end of June, as the three remaining districts start to vaccinate and 4.5 million more doses of vaccines arrive, Vandine said. The campaign would then target Kandal province and move on to other parts of the country, she added.

Asked about Phnom Penh vaccinations, Michael Thigpen of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Cambodia said: “The Government of Cambodia has set a goal of 10 million people in the Kingdom vaccinated and is making good progress with more than 2 million people having received their second dose of vaccine as of June 1. The faster that Cambodia reaches this goal, the sooner life will start returning to normal.”

The World Health Organization did not respond to questions.

On Tuesday, the WHO approved the China-made Sinovac vaccine for emergency use. All three vaccines being used in the country’s vaccination program have now been approved by the WHO.

“The world desperately needs multiple COVID-19 vaccines to address the huge access inequity across the globe,” said Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director general for access to health products, in the announcement.

Additional reporting by Michael Dickison

Clarification: A sentence has been edited to clarify that the vaccination rates in the six military-administered districts are for first doses; rates for second doses range from 18 to 134 percent, based on the Defense Ministry’s figures and the 2019 census.

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