Foreigners in Ho Chi Minh City were surprised because they were vaccinated early

Marcos Campos, a Brazilian, registered for vaccination at a residential area in District 4 in early July. A month later, he received the vaccination schedule.

Campos thought he would wait four months to get vaccinated. “To my surprise, I saw my name in the confirmation list on the morning of August 5,” he shared with VnExpress.

A few hours later, this IT professional walked about 5 minutes from his home to a nearby school, ready to wait in line for a vaccine. The queue is not too long, there are quite a few people at the injection point. All you have to do is show your ID, fill out a form and get your dose of AstraZeneca. The whole process takes about an hour.

Campos expressed his gratitude that “Vietnam has generously vaccinated foreigners”. He feels safer and continues to adhere to social distancing measures.

Campos is one of the foreigners who received the Covid-19 vaccine during the mass vaccination campaign of Ho Chi Minh City. The city has been accelerating this program to fight the pandemic, at a time when the country does not have enough vaccines.

Marcos Campos holds a certificate of vaccination after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, in District 4, Ho Chi Minh City, August 5. Photo: Marcos Campos.

For Lui Sieh, an American living in District 7, registration was even quicker. He enrolled at a local church on August 3 and was vaccinated just two days later. This was “surprise”, he said.

However, Sieh encountered a number of obstacles. On the first day of going to the vaccination station at an entertainment center, he and his friend had to wait up to two hours because of overcrowding. He was asked to leave and return the next day. On August 6, Sieh received the Moderna vaccine after a two-hour wait.

Sieh said many people feel stressed and anxious “because of the long wait”, fearing that they will be interrupted. He also feels the number of medical staff is meager, “not enough to manage many people”. After the police arrived to coordinate the injection site, things became more efficient, he recounts.

“It’s a relief to be vaccinated. I feel very fortunate and grateful,” Sieh said. He said some people had to wait longer.

At the same injection site, Sieh’s wife received the AstraZeneca vaccine. She postponed the injection twice because of some information errors and increased blood pressure.

Vietnam received a total of about 19 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer and Sinopharm. As of August 12, the total number of doses administered was 12,098,821, of which 11,006,121 people were injected, and 1,092,700 people were injected with the second dose. About 21% of the population of Ho Chi Minh City received the first dose of vaccine, 1% received the second dose.

Emma Schmidt (request to change her name), German, said she and her colleagues waited nearly two months before receiving the vaccine in early August. Schmidt knew the date and location of the injection at the hospital the night before. She shared that the organization of the injection was very good, although it took about three hours.

She is delighted to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is licensed in Europe. Schmidt could see his colleagues again in two months. However, Schmidt is a bit sad because some of his colleagues are in isolation and cannot get vaccinated. They will register later in the residential area.

Schmidt hopes developed countries will continue to fund vaccines. She hopes that the current progress will not be affected as some countries plan to give their citizens a third dose, while poorer countries lack supplies. Through the Embassy, ​​she knows that her homeland Germany is a sponsor of the Covax mechanism, which is supporting vaccines for countries like Vietnam.

Vaccination against Covid-19 at a vaccination point in Thu Duc city, Ho Chi Minh City, August 1.  Photo: Quynh Tran

Vaccination against Covid-19 at a vaccination site in Thu Duc city, Ho Chi Minh City, August 1. Photo: Quynh Tran

On the morning of July 29, Mr. Timothy Bandors, an American, living in District 4, received a notice that he would be vaccinated on the same day. As a teacher, he is on the priority list, supported by the school to register for vaccinations. He arrived at the injection site with his colleagues in a school car with a strange feeling. Shops are closed, the streets are empty, only a few beggars are left. After passing several quarantine checkpoints, they arrived at a school.

“I feel a bit out of place because I’m the only foreigner,” he said.

Bandors has a high fever after receiving AstraZeneca vaccine, it takes 5 days to return to normal. However, he felt relieved.

“I’ve only had the vaccine and I’ve reacted like this, if I had the virus, it would have been terrible,” he said.

Another teacher, Chad Dave, was also arranged by the school to receive the vaccine at the end of June. He arrived at the injection site by motorbike when the city was not yet closed. Dave feels “really happy and grateful” to be vaccinated. His job requires him to be in contact with hundreds of people a day, so it is important to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to students and older family members. Even though he was safer, he still carefully followed the precautions.

We should give it back

Radhakrishnan MB, an Indian, living in Vietnam for more than two decades, received the AstraZeneca vaccine on August 6, after registering with the apartment management. Vaccination tents were set up on the premises of the building where he lived. Not only relieved and grateful, Radhakrishnan said that foreigners should show their appreciation to the Vietnamese government by concrete actions.

“We should give it back,” he said. Radhakrishnan wishes to “donate money” to “return” the vaccine received if Vietnam has a policy that allows it. He suggested foreigners should join the ‘Immunization Challenge’ created by a group, based on nomination.

Having participated in many charity programs and regularly donated blood, Radhakrishnan said he wanted to ride a motorbike from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi right after being vaccinated to spread the message of blood donation. “It was my dream trip,” he said.

Radhakrishnan is also eager to return to India. He hasn’t seen his mother since March of last year. He planned to visit her as soon as possible international clearance.

Radhakrishnan MB holds a certificate of vaccination against Covid-19 at the District 7, Ho Chi Minh City building, August 6.  Photo: Radhakrishnan MB

Radhakrishnan MB holds a certificate of vaccination against Covid-19 at the building in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, August 6. Photo: Radhakrishnan MB

Most foreigners have missed the opportunity to travel in and out of Vietnam. But they understand that this is not the right time.

Dave strictly adheres to the social distancing rules. In June, he isolated himself because he had indirect contact with a positive case. He feels lucky to still be able to teach online.

After being vaccinated, he wanted to visit the North, which was impossible despite being in Vietnam for three years. The pandemic has greatly affected his travel plans.

Sieh and his wife are figuring out the right family destination. Their friends are also considering traveling after the lockdown is over. Sieh wants to go to Da Lat, Dong Nai and Con Dao.

“We all miss the feeling of traveling,” he said.

But in this moment, he and his family and friends prayed for Vietnam to be safe and sound. He understands this is a difficult period for both Vietnamese and foreigners.

Bandors hopes the government will soon allow vaccinated people to move more freely. His wife is pregnant, his family has no travel plans in the near future.

Schmidt said she was pleased to see the vaccination campaign in Ho Chi Minh City accelerated. She hopes everything will return to normal. The first dose of the vaccine “put her at ease”, but it was too early to let her guard down. Schmidt hasn’t come up with a new plan as the city still implements social distancing, but she hopes that when the situation improves, vaccinated people can explore the country, still taking precautions.

Campos hopes to get the second dose soon, hope everyone gets vaccinated as quickly as possible. He hopes that people in “the country he loves” will soon return to normal life. If possible, he would like to spend Christmas with his family. If conditions do not allow, he will travel domestically.

“I’ll wait until it’s safe, not now,” he said.



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