VIENTIANE, June 28 (Xinhua) -- Lao health officials will roll out the third round of COVID-19 vaccination program when the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines arrive in July.
A shipment of 132,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine is scheduled to arrive in the Lao capital Vientiane in July, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Monday.
Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is also set to arrive in the country next month but the quantity to be shipped has not been confirmed.
The vaccines will be provided by the COVAX Facility, a partnership between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
One of the main challenges the Lao government is facing in its battle against the virus is to procure 7.4 million doses of vaccine to immunize 3.7 million people, or 50 percent of the population by the end of 2021.
To date, Laos has been given a quota of 6.6 million doses of vaccine which is insufficient to inoculate 3.7 million people.
"The government is trying to source the remaining vaccine from friendly countries. The government will also create a budget to purchase vaccines and source funding from private companies to buy sufficient quantities, " Phonepaseuth Ounaphome, director general of the Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion under the Lao Ministry of Health, told a press conference on Friday.
Laos has so far received 2.1 million doses of vaccine, including those from China's Sinopharm, according to the report.
To date, 11.6 percent of the Lao population has received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 6.7 percent people have been given a second dose.