A doctor getting ready to vaccinate a patient with the Sinopharm vaccine from China. KT/Khem Sovannara

The Cambodian government is providing free vaccinations against COVID-19 to all foreigners living and working in the Kingdom.

This was disclosed in a circular dated February 24, 2021, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to diplomatic missions in Phnom Penh and the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator.

The ministry in the circular said: “All foreign nationals who are currently residing and working in Cambodia can get vaccinated against COVID-19 at no charge in accordance with Cambodian COVID-19 vaccination plans”.

More details on the process of vaccinating foreigners will be released in the future, it said.

The Australian Embassy also posted the news on its Facebook page, confirming that foreigners were eligible for vaccinations.

“Australia is pleased that foreign nationals who are living or working in Cambodia will be able to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in line with Cambodia’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout. This is both a compassionate decision and a smart one because broad vaccine coverage across all groups in Cambodia will ultimately help protect everyone from COVID-19,” it said.

A British expat who requested anonymity told Khmer Times she would accept a vaccine for free from the government because it could help get her life back to normal.

An Australian expat in the food and beverage industry said he would also get a vaccine for free if offered.

He added that he is pro-vaccination and didn’t agree with those who would doubt the effectiveness or importance of getting vaccines.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh on Wednesday said it had received information that Sinopharm vaccines were being sold on the black market for between $120 and $450.

The Ministry of Health denied the report, however.

The Chinese Embassy said Chinese residents of Cambodia alerted the embassy to texts received promising vaccines if they paid $120.

Posts on Chinese social media indicated that vaccines were being sold for $450 as well.

According to Fresh News, the story first broke on Angkor Times and was spread on WeChat, saying “Cambodia sells China-aided COVID-19 vaccines at a high price.”

The embassy also said that according to their understanding of the situation, the Cambodian government and military store the vaccines and that there was no way it could have slipped through to the open market. It said any messages proposing to have the vaccine are fake.

The Chinese Embassy added that the vaccines are monitored closely and follow strict guidelines related to storage and transportation. It also noted that vaccines obtained on the black market and vaccinations administered by non-professionals pose health risks.

To date, 10,115 civilians have been vaccinated in Cambodia. The country received 600,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China on February 7 and shipments of the Oxford/AstraZenca vaccine are expected to arrive in Cambodia by the end of this month, according to World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Cambodia Dr Li Ailan.

The country’s vaccination drive began on February 10. Of the 600,000 doses, 300,000 were given to the Ministry of Defence to inoculate armed forces, dignitaries, senior ministers, governors, secretaries, and undersecretaries of state. The Ministry of Health was given the other half of vaccinations to be used by health officials and journalists.