Cambodia began vaccinating its people against coronavirus on Wednesday, using 600,000 Sinopharm vaccine doses donated by China.
The sons of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen were the first recipients, followed by government ministers, Reuters is reporting.
The Southeast Asian nation of 16 million has managed to limit the spread of the disease so far, reporting just 478 infections and no deaths, although a rare cluster of cases emerged in November.
Hun Sen had vowed to take the first shot himself, but later said that at 68 he was above the age to get the vaccine. His sons and the justice and environment ministers were the first to get the jab instead.
Hun Manet, the prime minister’s eldest son and deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces said, “I feel even more confident now that I have a defence system in my body against Covid,” as he gave a thumbs-up in the Calmette Hospital in the capital Phnom Penh.
Doctors had advised him not to eat seafood or drink alcohol after taking the vaccine, he told reporters, urging them to also get shots.
One of Asia’s poorest countries, Cambodia has been an important ally of China in recent years and Beijing promised to send one million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, sufficient for two doses each for 500,000 people.
China’s first consignment of 600,000 doses had arrived in Phnom Penh on Sunday on a special flight, most of the doses earmarked for health workers and the military.
“We were worried that we might infect family members with the virus, now there is the vaccine as a defence wall,” Justice Minister Keut Rith said after his injection.
“A vaccine is the best defence solution for us, for our family and the community.”