Cambodia is hoping for mass immunization in – first – the city of Phnom Penh. The government is now prioritizing free vaccination for the residents of the capital city, months ahead of the rest of the country.
After the lockdown was lifted (on May 5), Chief villages or the local Sangkat offices in Phnom Penh have started distributing vaccination forms to local residents. Areas tagged as ‘Red zones’ are prioritized since they pose a higher risk.
To know how Phnom Penh is delivering vaccines to each Sangkat, we’ve documented the “vaccine journey” of Phea Rady, one of IPS employees.
Getting the First dose:
1. According to Rady, authorities from his neighborhood, Boeung Salang, distributed the vaccination forms [below] or made the forms available in local Sangkat offices after lockdown. Upon receiving it, he was told where the vaccination site is.
Note: Bring a scanned copy of a valid ID and the actual valid ID with the vaccine form.
2. Local residents should fill up the form with necessary information. There are no vaccine dates indicated in the form, so you may choose which date suits you best. In the case of Rady, he went to the vaccination site immediately after receiving and filling it up.
Since hospitals and some clinics are the main institutions that treat Covid patients, local primary and secondary schools have temporarily been converted into vaccine sites. And as for Rady, he was directed to go to Boeung Salang Primary School.
3. Each site is being monitored by the armed forces or military groups for crowd control and strict social distancing. Meanwhile, there are medical groups administering vaccines indoors. According to Rady, early morning is the best time to get a vaccine if you don’t want to wait too long.
Getting the first dose took longer than getting the second, he said. After showing the form to the authority, he was given a number and was told to wait for his turn. Numbers are called by tens through a megaphone.
4. Once called, Rady lined up to the school hallway for another ‘vaccine form check’ and a body sanitation (by alcohol spray) before entering the room. There are three (3) vaccination rooms in the said site. Each room has two sections; an area for biometrics and for vaccines.
Note: Sinovac and Sinopharm are the vaccines administered to local Cambodians.
Before getting vaccinated, an authority will ask a few questions while filling up the rest of the form. He or she would also get your right thumb print and would brief you on the do’s and don’ts after getting the vaccine (which are also written in the form).
5. When Rady received the form back, the date of his second dose was already written on it. Sinovac was the only vaccine available at this time. The last step left after getting vaccinated was to present the copy of his ID to the authority, and have a profile picture taken by them.
Getting the Second dose:
Getting the second dose of Sinovac or Sinopharm is scheduled two (2) weeks after the first dose. Since the majority of Boeung Salang residents have already got their first dose, the local community made some changes to the system.
Note: Second dose may be given up to six weeks (42 days), depending on which type of Covid-19 vaccine you got on your first dose.
1. By lining up outside of the Boeung Salang Primary School, the military people would just let in around twenty people at a time. Inside, there was a long passage covered with tents and marked with isolation tapes attached to the chairs, which leads to the vaccination area. Rady just followed the path.
2. The process is somewhat similar to getting the first dose but as mentioned, it took a shorter time. Rady went through the checking of vaccine forms > body sanitation > vaccination > and scanning of form. But unlike getting the first dose (inside a room), the vaccination of second dose took place outdoors, with more than five vaccination seats (one at a time).
3. After completing two doses, the authorities would provide a vaccine card that you would either claim on the same day of the second dose or after a three to five days. In Rady’s case, he would have to wait for a few days to claim his vaccine card.
According to Khoung Sreng, the governor of Phnom Penh, all residents in Phnom Penh will be vaccinated against Covid-19 including foreigners with valid visa and work permit. As of May 27, almost two (2) million people in Phnom Penh have been vaccinated against Covid-19. The Royal Government is determined to complete the vaccination in Phnom Penh by June 2021.