AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Solomon Islands Friday
20,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 doses will arrive in the country on Friday, Solomon Islands health officials have confirmed.
The Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Dr Gregory Jilini, made the confirmation during oversight committees’ weekly talk back show on national broadcaster.
He says frontline workers will be the first to get vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine, and this could happen as early as next week.
The COVID-19 vaccine Technical Working Group (TWG) is conducting awareness sessions for all frontline workers. The TWG comprises of immunization and health experts within the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, UNICEF and WHO in collaboration with the National Health Promotion Officers of MHMS.
In a media statement Chair of the TWG, Dr Divinal Ogaoga, explained the importance of vaccinating the COVID-19 operation frontline workers.
“Front-liners are our first line of defense because they are the ones responsible to assess and clear, transport and monitor all incoming travelers, including managing and caring for those who arrive in country and tested positive for COVID-19. As such, they are more at risk of contracting COVID-19 than any other citizens," Dr Ogaoga said.
“Therefore, by giving priority to frontline workers to receive the vaccine we are not only protecting the frontline workers themselves but also enhancing the protection of the entire country against COVID-19.
“Further-more front-liners perform a critical role in the overall efforts of the country against COVID-19 thus the vaccine will prevent them from hospitalization or death due to COVID-19”.
Opposition Leader Matthew Wale says the government must do more to secure the much needed COVID-19 vaccines for all Solomon Islanders.
He said the announcement by the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on the quantities of vaccines earmarked for the country indicates that it will not be enough.
The Prime Minister said Solomon Islands needs at least 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to cover the population. He said so far 128,000 have been pledged under the COVAX facility and other donors.
The Opposition Leader said more needs to be done.
“Solomon Islands must take the matter of vaccines in its own hands and find and spend the money to acquire the vaccines most suited to our context.
“Solomon Islands people must not be held at the mercy of donors – who are giving priority to their own populations and countries of great need and of geopolitical priority to them. In this pandemic, it is clear there is great vaccine inequality. This is made worse if Solomon Islands depends totally on donor goodwill for its supply,” Wale said in a recently released press statement.
He said AstraZeneca vaccine has been listed at USD$4 per dose, which is within reach for the government.
“For 1.6 million doses, this comes to a total of USD$6.4 million – a total of SBD$51.2 million, which is entirely within our own affordability and government is being negligent in depending totally on donors for vaccine supply.
“It is important to our society and economy and its opening up to the rest of the world that our entire population is vaccinated. We do not have control over this, if the government is at the mercy of donors to supply the vaccines.
"This matter is so important that the government may have to borrow funds for it, as is the case in many other countries around the globe,” the Opposition Leader added.
SOURCE: SOLOMON TIMES ONLINE/PACNEWS