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Vietnam becomes latest country to welcome vaccine passports

written by Hannah Dowling | April 12, 2021
A file image of Vietnam Airlines Boeing 787-9 VN-A870. (BriYYZ/Wikimedia Commons)
A file image of Vietnam Airlines Boeing 787-9 VN-A870. (BriYYZ/Wikimedia Commons)

Vietnam may soon welcome vaccinated tourists, as well as citizens stranded abroad and foreign investors, under a proposed vaccine passport program, officials have said.

The country has had in place a range of restrictions on its borders since March 2020, in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, however the Vietnamese Ministry of Health (MoH) has proposed an easing of such restrictions for vaccinated people, in light of its newly-developed health passport technologies.

According to the MoH, the information technology infrastructure for its COVID-19 vaccination passport system is essentially complete, and “fully adapts to international preparations of vaccine passport deployment”.

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In addition to vaccination status, the Vietnamese digital health passport contains relevant information to confirm the identity of travellers, conditions of entry permits, the type of vaccine administered, and other information deemed relevant.

In light of the development, Vietnam has made allowances for three streams of vaccinated people to enter into Vietnam, in order to encourage national economic growth: stranded Vietnamese citizens, foreign visitors intending to visit Vietnam for the purposes of conducting business or investment, and tourists.

While the MoH will still need to create and outline specific guidelines on the welcoming of international tourists in conjunction with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, it is expected that initially, Vietnam will only accept vaccinated tourists from certain low-risk countries.

Dang Quang Tan, head of preventative medicine under the MoH, suggested that Vietnam reach bilateral agreements with other low-COVID countries for the movement of tourists that have been vaccinated.

He said that international tourists from approved countries will need to confirm their vaccination status from an approved legitimate authority, via QR code or physical certificate.

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However, Tan also warned of the potential risk of welcoming vaccinated tourists, in light of Vietnam’s low rates of community transmission, in addition to the country’s current low rate of vaccinations – both of which mean community immunity to COVID is low.

“The protection effect of the vaccines, meanwhile, is also very different for different people and the duration of vaccine protection is not yet clear, so it is difficult to determine the validity period for a vaccine passport,” he said.

Vietnam has joined a range of countries in welcoming the concept of digital vaccine passports, including China, Japan and, recently, South Korea.

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