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How are foreigners getting COVID-19 vaccinations in Ho Chi Minh City?

Friday, August 06, 2021, 10:25 GMT+7
How are foreigners getting COVID-19 vaccinations in Ho Chi Minh City?
A French citizen gets a Moderna jab against COVID-19 at FV Hospital through a vaccination campaign run by the French Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City on July 29, 2021. Photo: My Thuong / Tuoi Tre

A number of foreigners in Ho Chi Minh City have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine as the southern city is stepping up its vaccination campaigns.

In one of the city’s latest moves, many foreigners living in District 7 were vaccinated on Thursday afternoon as part of the district’s target to inoculate 18,000 foreigners living and working in the locality.

For the past month, the vaccinated foreigners are mainly French citizens who have got the jabs thanks to a campaign by the French Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as expats working as teachers – a priority group subject to complimentary COVID-19 vaccination by the Vietnamese government.

Educational workforce

One of the first foreigners to get vaccinated in Ho Chi Minh City, Scottish teacher Frances got her AstraZeneca jab at the beginning of July after her employer registered the whole staff for the vaccination.

“I work in many public schools so it’s important that we should be vaccinated to reduce any spread of COVID-19 and to help the students get back to their physical classrooms as soon as possible,” Frances told Tuoi Tre News.

“I had to bring my passport and my own pen for filling out the forms which were all in Vietnamese but my colleagues helped to translate them,” she recalled.

Frances was both excited and worried about her first jab.

“My family in the UK were given different vaccines and I had heard about AstraZeneca's side effects but after more research, I learned that the risks are lower than catching COVID-19 so I was happy to get it,” she explained.

According to Frances, getting the vaccine was painless and she felt great until about seven hours later.

“Around 11:00 pm I started to get a fever and a migraine headache. My body was aching and I felt uncomfortable,” Frances remembered the postvaccinal reaction.

“I took some Panadol pills to help my headache but it didn’t help very much so I struggled to sleep all night.

“I finally got some sleep at around 4:00 am.

"By the time I woke up again around 7:00 am, my fever had been gone and my headache had almost disappeared.

“During that day I rested and tried to sleep more, but it was difficult because my whole body was aching, making it hard to get comfortable.”

The next day, Frances felt better and only had some ache in her arm. After a couple of days, all side effects were gone and she felt normal again.

“I’m extremely grateful that Vietnam is helping to vaccinate foreigners, as it is impossible for me to go home to get the vaccine and come back to Vietnam,” she said.

Frances also pointed out some ways for expats living in Vietnam to register for vaccination.

“If you’re a teacher in Vietnam like me then you can ask your company to register you,” she recommended.

“You can also register yourself for the vaccine using the [Vietnamese vaccination portal] website which is for everyone [you will need to translate it].

“You can also email your embassy and ask your home country to help by sending more vaccines to Vietnam.

“This is the only way to reduce the spread of the Delta variant in Vietnam and help us to open the country up."

Frances is seen in a selfie she took while coming to Phu Tho Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City's District 11 to get COVID-19 vaccination in early July, 2021

Frances is seen in a selfie she took while coming to Phu Tho Sports Center in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City to get COVID-19 vaccination in early July 2021.

Meanwhile, kindergarten teacher Cassandra Cassidy got her first shot of AstraZeneca on July 26 in Thao Dien Ward, Thu Duc City.

“Like many others, I was waiting anxiously for the vaccine. I was nervous at first, not sure what priority foreign workers would be given [the jabs],” the Canadian teacher told Tuoi Tre News.

“I learned that I was most likely eligible for the vaccine as some of my friends told me they were registered by their school.

“I then received a message from my school’s admin saying that they had signed me up,” she added, saying it took her about a month later to receive the vaccine.

After the jab, Cassidy said she had very minimal reactions, including a very slight headache four hours later, a slight fever not higher than 37.3 degrees Celsius for one day, and very minor pain in the arm lasting three to four days.

“I felt very happy to get the notice I was getting vaccinated. It almost felt like a sigh of relief, like a small weight being lifted off my shoulders,” Cassidy admitted.

“I haven’t been able to visit Canada for over two years now. It’s been very challenging and painful. This is one step closer to doing that.”

Even though she was unable to choose her vaccine and worried a bit about the second dose and what would be offered, the teacher said she was “happy to be protected.”

French campaign

In June, Vietnam announced it would give foreign citizens living and working in the Southeast Asian country opportunities to be immunized against COVID-19.

Speaking at a regular press conference held online on June 24, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang affirmed that foreign citizens will be vaccinated when Vietnam receives more vaccines – an initiative in line with the country’s goal of reaching herd immunity.

After that, the French Embassy in Hanoi and the French Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City launched a vaccination campaign for their compatriots and the staff of the French diplomatic network in Vietnam, with the authorization of Vietnamese authorities.

Free-of-charge Moderna jabs have been administered at the Hanoi French Hospital in Hanoi and FV Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.

“I felt extremely happy and excited indeed that my country was taking care of its citizens,” Frenchman Raphael Galuz said.

Galuz, who took the injection at FV Hospital on his birthday on July 31, clearly described his process of vaccination at the hospital.

“I first registered a medical declaration with a QR code on the Vietnamese Ministry of Health’s website, then entered a tent where the staff asked me medical questions before having to complete a dossier to give my medical information and consent to get vaccinated,” Galuz recalled.

“Then they divided people in groups of five and brought them to another part of the hospital.

“After that we got into a room to receive our shot, then had to wait for 15 minutes to see if there were any abnormal symptoms before getting home.”

Frenchman Raphael Galuz is getting a Moderna jab against COVID-19 at FV Hospital through a vaccination campaign run by the French Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City on July 31, 2021. Photo provided by Galuz

Frenchman Raphael Galuz is getting a Moderna jab against COVID-19 at FV Hospital through a vaccination campaign run by the French Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City on July 31, 2021. Photo provided by Galuz

Galuz said he had some post-vaccination minor side effects such as arm pain, headaches, and extensive tiredness.

As he got the jab while Ho Chi Minh City is practicing intensive social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19, Galuz said he was stopped three times when crossing into a district on the way from his home in District 3 to the hospital in District 7.

“I just needed to show my summons from FV Hospital and could easily get through police checkpoints,” he recounted. A friend of Raphael Galuz's, Kevin Yassin Beddiaf, a teacher who has lived in Vietnam for four years, also got his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on August 2.

Beddiaf registered for the jab on FV Hospital's website and secured the confirmation from the French Consulate General by email.

Nearly two weeks later, he received an email with an appointment from the hospital to get the first injection.

“I went there with my motorbike and got stopped once. I showed the policeman my convocation and an attestation that explained why I was out and driving. I had no problem going back home,” he recollected.

“I felt lucky and grateful to be able to get vaccinated,” he said.

“I wasn't really excited or worried, feeling like ‘yeah, at some point it has to be done so let's do it’.”

Beddiaf added he did not have any post-jab reaction at all except a little pain in the shoulder the day after where the nurse did the injection.

Meanwhile, Hugo Blin, who is currently working for a sourcing company in Thu Duc City, also took his first jab of Moderna on July 27 at FV Hospital through the French Consulate General’s campaign.

Hugo Blin is getting a Moderna jab against COVID-19 at FV Hospital through a vaccination campaign run by the French Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City on July 27, 2021. Photo provided by Blin

Hugo Blin is getting a Moderna jab against COVID-19 at FV Hospital through a vaccination campaign run by the French Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City on July 27, 2021. Photo provided by Blin

“Everything was well organized. I arrived at 8:15 am and left the hospital just after 9:00 am,” he said.

Like his fellow Beddiaf, Blin did not have any reaction like fever and the only pain that he got was in his arm but it was not very painful.

“I want to say thank you to the French Consulate General for organizing this campaign here in Ho Chi Minh City for the French citizens,” he said.

“I was a little bit worried about the reactions after receiving the shot but actually everything was fine.”

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