Speaking at a recent national conference on guidance and care for Covid-19 infected children, Son said the number accounts for 19.2 percent of people aged under 18 years in the country.
4.8 percent of children between 13-17 years have tested positive for the virus; 8 percent aged 6-12; 2.8 percent aged 3-5; and 3.6 percent aged 0-2, he noted.
Only 165 child deaths have been attributed to Covid-19, accounting for 0.42 percent of the country’s total Covid-19 deaths – 0.11 percent in the 13-17 years group, 0.1 percent in the 6-12 range, and 0.18 percent in the 0-2 range.
While the death rate remains low, there are many cases of long-Covid symptoms, including post-Covid complications and some serious but rare multisystem inflammatory syndrome cases, the health official said.
Nguyen Trong Khoa, deputy head of the Department of Medical Examination and Treatment under the health ministry, said as of February 7, among 516,163 cases of Covid-19 detected in HCMC, the former epicenter of the fourth wave in Vietnam, 32,429 were children, or 6.3 percent of the total.
An analysis of 2,478 Covid-19 infected children in HCMC revealed 165 cases of serious disease, with 13.9 percent suffering from overweight issues and 8.5 percent from other health issues.
Khoa said the focus should be on protecting vulnerable groups of children – ones who are obese, under treatment for chronic health problems, immunocompromised patients, etc. – as they are at disproportionately high risks of severe disease and deaths when infected.
In recent times, the health ministry has been closely coordinating with the education ministry and local authorities to expedite the vaccination of children aged 12-17 to allow the safe reopening of schools with the current vaccination rate reaching 90 percent.
A total of 16.4 million doses of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine have been administered to this age group, including 7.96 million second doses, while the inoculation of children aged 5-12 is slated to start soon, also with Pfizer shots.