Myanmar health workers receive first COVID-19 vaccinations

YANGON (AP) — Health workers in Myanmar yesterday became the first people in the Southeast Asian country to be vaccinated against COVID-19, five days after the first vaccines were delivered from India.

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s leader, announced last week that front-line health workers would get priority for inoculations with the vaccine developed by Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. India, which manufactures the vaccine under license, donated 1.5 million doses to Myanmar, enough to inoculate 750,000 people.

Yesterday, Suu Kyi observed vaccinations at a hospital in the capital, Naypyitaw, and told reporters that the inoculation campaign must proceed carefully because the government does not have all the supplies it needs. She said people would be monitored for side effects and be issued certificates that they have been vaccinated.

Suu Kyi, 75, is expected to be vaccinated today.

Myanmar health authorities on Tuesday announced 411 new coronavirus cases, bringing the confirmed total to 138,368. The death toll increased by 13 to 3,082.

About 100 personnel were vaccinated yesterday at the Ayeyarwaddy COVID-19 Treatment Center in Yangon, the country’s biggest city. It was set up last September with 1,000 beds to house coronavirus patients, and later also became a testing centre.

Myo Thet Naing, a health worker at the centre, had no complaints after get- ting vaccinated.

“So far I feel nothing. It is all good,” she said.

Htet Aung Lin, a 19-year-old volunteer, said he was aware of the health threat when he decided to help out at the centre, but after receiving a vaccine, “I feel very pleased and happy.”

Health and Sports Minister Myint Htwe receives vaccine for the coronavirus from a health volunteer at a hospital in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. PHOTO: AP