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CORRECTED-Vietnam to start COVID-19 vaccinations in March -state media

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(Corrects Fahrenheit temperature conversion in paragraph 4)

HANOI, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Vietnam will begin its COVID-19vaccination programme next month with frontline healthcare staffand the elderly in line for the first doses as the countrytackles a new wave of coronavirus infections, state mediareported on Monday.

The Southeast Asian country expects to receive 60 milliondoses this year, including 30 million under the WHO-led COVAXscheme, with a first batch of 204,000 doses of the AstraZenecavaccine due to arrive on Feb. 28.

"The first wave of COVID-19 vaccinations, prioritisingfrontline medical workers and high-risk groups, will begin inMarch right after the first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccinearrives and passes quality checks," the state-run Tuoi Trenewspaper reported.

Refrigerators able to store vaccines at temperatures of -86to -40 degrees Celsius (-122.8°F to -40°F) had been prepared inthe country's three biggest cities of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh Cityand Danang, the paper said.

The government said previously it was in talks with Russianand U.S. vaccine manufacturers on potential supply agreements,while it expects a home-grown vaccine to be ready for domesticinoculation by May.

Vietnam's health ministry did not immediately respond to arequest for comment its vaccination programme.

Late last month, Vietnam approved the AstraZeneca vaccinefor emergency use days after the country detected the firstlocally transmitted cases in nearly two months.

Thanks to targeted mass testing and strict quarantining,Vietnam managed to successfully contain the virus for months buta fresh outbreak has proved more difficult to stamp out.

The country of 98 million people has recorded 791 new casessince the latest outbreak started last month, or about a thirdof its overall caseload of 2,383 infections since cases werefirst detected a year ago. Vietnam has reported 35 deaths due tothe virus.(Reporting by Phuong Nguyen and Khanh VuEditing by Ed Davies)