With 22 days away to go before the year ends, Papua New Guinea is well short of reaching its goal of vaccinating 1.8 million people against the Coronavirus (Covid-19) in 2021, a doctor says.

National Pandemic Response deputy controller Dr Daoni Esorom said so far, only 279,220 had received at least the first dose. There are 211,421 who have been fully vaccinated.

The target this year is 1,869,379. Vaccines available include AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Johnson and Johnson.

“Only 11.3 per cent have been fully vaccinated and this is very low,” he said.

“We have to work hard to make sure that we vaccinate a bigger percentage of the population that we set out to vaccinate.

“Our primary focus is to increase the vaccination rate.

“We need to focus on three important categories: frontline health workers, with only over 30 per cent fully vaccinated, other frontline workers and those with comorbidities.

Dr Esorom said with the threat of the Omicron variant and other variants, it was important that people got vaccinated.

“Since it is almost seven months since the first dose was given in May, we (must) think about the boosters,” he said.

“Our team now is compiling a vaccination report to identify how many breakthrough infections we have and how many AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and J&J had been given out.

“We are going into a detail analysis of all these vaccines on how many of those fully vaccinated have been infected.

“It will guide us as to how many people have been infected so we can give them boosters.”

The team is also working on what vaccines to be given to young people between 12 and 17, and those between 5 and 11.