UN Resident Coordinator: Palau’s vaccination rate among best in the world


Outgoing UN Resident Coordinator for the Pacific Sanaka Samarasinha lauded Palau’s high vaccination rate adding that it is “among the best in the world.”

Samarasinha was in Palau last week for a country mission where he also met key government representatives, national UN staff, and civil society groups, and the private sector to discuss, current work the UN is doing in the island nation.

“I need to congratulate Palau and Palauans for your state of vaccination. You’re amongst the best in the world in terms of the fully vaccinated, the percentage of the fully vaccinated people in your population amongst your population.”

That is really, really important if we are going to be able to carry on with our lives, perhaps with some adjustments, but we all want to get back to a degree of normalcy,” he said in an interview.

He said vaccination is key to reopening the economy.

“And given that Palau is dependent on tourism, it’s quite important that you are able to get to a stage where you can safely welcome visitors back.”

According to the Ministry of Health and Human Services ) MHHS), as of 27 September, 91 percent of the estimated 17,651 population have been fully vaccinated.

Palau also leading the United States on COVID-19 vaccination statistics.

“I think vaccination is a very important step in order to be able to reopen borders and be able to welcome visitors,” Samarasinha stressed.

He also highlighted that aside from a high immunisation rate, vigilance is also a key element in preventing the spread of the disease and reviving the economy.

“I think it is equally important to note that we still have to be vigilant. It is possible down the road that we may face future variants, we may face other viruses. So taking those basic measures to keep ourselves in our family safe,” he noted.

Meanwhile, President Surangel Whipps Jr said Palau is monitoring the progress of vaccination for under 12 years old as the nation continues will the rollout of vaccination.

Reports say that The makers of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will soon seek clearance to use it in children five and older, and are getting ready to make smaller doses of the vaccine for younger than five years old.

According to New York Times, Ozlem Tureci, the co-founder of BioNTech and its chief medical officer was quoted as saying, “we will be presenting the results from our study on 5-to-11-year-olds to authorities around the world in the coming weeks.

It was also announced that Pfizer-BioNTech submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration to clear its Covid-19 vaccine for use in children ages five to 11.

If FDA gives the go signal, reports said vaccinating children will hopefully begin by the end of October in the U.S.

Gaafar Uherbalau, Ministry of Health’s Emergency Operation Centre’s (EOC) Deputy Incident Commander said meanwhile in Palau, the third dose vaccination continues for the Immune-compromised and waiting for guidance for the third dose of boosters shots for individuals.

Palau started to vaccinate children between ages 12 to 17 in May. As of 30 September 2021, 1,247 adolescents have been fully vaccinated and 16,082 adults fully vaccinated and 473 adults or individuals that are immunocompromised have received their third dose jabs.

Whipps in the press conference said, sooner or later, people have to learn to live with the coronavirus.

“One thing we need to understand, this is the new normal, and we have said it many times, Covid is here to stay and we need to adjust our thinking on what COVID is and how we deal with it,” Whipps said,

While there is always the COVID risk to Palau, he lauded the work of the EOC and the Ministry of Health in mitigating the risk of the virus entering the country’s shore.

“They have done a great job in protecting the borders. I know they are overworked, but they are still going and doing it and we need to thank them for that dedication,” the president stressed.