Niue has become one of just a few countries in the world to reach herd immunity against Covid-19 after it vaccinated almost 100 per cent of its eligible population.
The Pacific Island nation, which has a population of nearly 2,000 people, reached the milestone within two months.
A national celebration was held on Tuesday to mark the vaccination milestone.
With Pfizer vaccines supplied by New Zealand, Niue began its vaccination programme on June 1 and vaccinated 97 per cent of the eligible population on the first round.
The second round went smoothly and achieved the same results. Vaccination was completed on July 9.
Niue’s government is now looking to vaccinate those aged 12-15, pending MedSafe approval.
Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio said Niue’s achievement is significant, and its residents should be proud.
“I’m excited for them, this is a big deal,” Sio said.
“A lot of hard work has gone into this, with a lot of people working behind the scenes. It’s super fantastic.”
He said Niue’s example sends a strong message that Premier Dalton Tagelagi, who applied science to his decisions, is a good leader.
“You have to take the nation with you, and he did that.”
Tagelagi, in an earlier interview, said the support for vaccination has been tremendous. Those that chose not to vaccinate did so because of religious reasons.
“This is entirely their choice.”
Niue is one of only 14 countries in the world that has remained Covid-free. It looks to be New Zealand’s next quarantine-free travel bubble, with the Niue government considering allowing only vaccinated travellers into the country.
Sio said Niue is now in a confident place to make decisions about a travel bubble, but it is up to its government to make that decision.
“Niue has always been clear from the outset that they won’t discuss any travel bubble until they’ve vaccinated its people.
“Whatever step they take after this, we will support them,” he said.
SOURCE: STUF NZ/PACNEWS