Vanuatu launches its COVID- 19 vaccination rollout


-Today marks a historic moment for Vanuatu as the Ministry of Health launches its COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

With the long-awaited and planned for COVID-19 vaccines arriving on 19 May, the 24,000 doses of the AstraZeneca will be the first COVID-19 vaccines to be used in Vanuatu to vaccinate the first 20 percent of its population. The vaccine will be rolled out initially to the prioritised populations on Efate and its offshore islands.

The vaccine – which needs to be administered in two (2) doses – will initially be prioritised for the health care workers, and the frontline workers, including border and quarantine staff, public transport drivers.

Other priority groups in the first phase of the rollout include elderly people aged 55 and above and people over 35 with existing medical conditions.

Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Bob Loughman stated, “What a fantastic opportunity Vanuatu has to be able to rollout the vaccine in a smooth and well thought through manner with the country being COVID-free! We know now that we have a safe and effective vaccine for use in Vanuatu to protect our country”.

“While the vaccine is not mandatory and people will be able to choose whether they would take the vaccine, many people in our communities are much more at risk than others due to the nature of the job as well as those at risk of serious complications due to COVID-19.

“This is why the vaccine is being prioritised to protect them first,” added PM Loughman.

“Our priority must be to protect the most exposed and most vulnerable first from severe illness and death,” said Minister of Health, Silas Bule.

“Along with the rollout of the safe and effective vaccines, we must also work towards a diverse vaccine portfolio. At the same time, we must be prepared to provide booster shots and adapted vaccines.”

Bule added, “Every jab brings us one-step closer to putting this pandemic behind us. I urge everyone to come forward as soon as they are called as part of the eligible groups in this first phase of rollout. The vaccine is safe and effective and could save your life.”

Minister Bule pays tribute to Ministry of Health staff who continue working tirelessly to deliver the first 24,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to priority groups and communities in Vanuatu.

To celebrate this key milestone, there is an official launch event that is kicked off by a parade that the public is invited to join from 8am on Wednesday 2 June.

At the event, high level influential leaders will receive their first dose of the vaccine to show an example to the priority groups and the public.

Immediately following the high-level launch event, vaccine rollout will start for the prioritised populations at The National Convention Centre as follows:

• Thursday 03 June: Health care workers

• Friday 04 June: Airport workers (Air Vanuatu, AVL, private airlines and biosecurity) and Customs and Immigration

• Monday 07 June: Port Vila Land Transport Association (incl. taxi, bus, common transport, rental, drivers)

• Wednesday 09 June: Quarantine facilities and Wharf ( Ifira Stevedoring, Ports and Harbour)

• Thursday 19 June: VMF/Vansec Policy College, Maritime Wing; and

• From Monday 14 June: Priority Groups 3 and 4 (Elderly 55 years and above and people with existing medical conditions).

While administering of vaccines doses brings hope, other preventative measures must continue. Step by step vaccination the population will enable citizens, businesses and organisation to return to normal life as quickly as possible.

The Ministry of Health acknowledges the continues support of its partners including: the World Health Organisation; UNICEF for leading on procurement and supply of COVID-19 vaccines on behalf of COVAX facility; and the Governments of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, UK for allocating funds to COVAX facility…..PACNEWS