COVID-19 Vaccine Expected after July

Director General of Health Russel Tamata

“The Government of Vanuatu, wants the safest, and the best vaccine, that is suitable for our climate and with minimal side effects to our people. With that in mind, we expect the arrival of the first vaccines around July, August or September, 2021.”

Director General in the Ministry of Health, Russell Tamata made the confirmation and assurance in an exclusive interview with the Daily Post.

“One of the reasons for this delay is to ensure that we get the safest vaccine for the people of Vanuatu,” he said.

On the question of the process to receive the vaccines, Mr. Tamata explained the process is through COVAX Facility, which Vanuatu is already a registered member.

The COVAX Facility is a Gavi-coordinated Pooled Procurement Mechanism for new COVID-19 vaccines through which COVAX will ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines for each participating economy, using an allocation framework currently being formulated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The COVAX Facility will do this by pooling buying power from participating economies and providing volume of guarantees across a range of promising vaccine candidates, allowing those vaccine manufacturers whose expertise is essential to large scale production of the new vaccines, to make early at-risk investments in manufacturing capacity-providing participating countries and economies with best chance at rapid access to doses of a successful COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are liaising and working closely with COVAX as we want to a vaccine that is right for the Vanuatu climate, because not all vaccines will be suitable for our climate,” Mr. Tamata explained.

DG Tamata also confirmed that to secure the vaccine, the manufacturers would require letters of indemnity and guarantee from the Government of Vanuatu and the State Law Office has advised that the process would be through the national Parliament.

This is to give assurance to the manufacturers.

“We also have assurances from Vanuatu’s donor partners who are ready to assist Vanuatu in this endeavour,” he said.

As for the budget to purchase COVID-19 vaccines, the Health DG said part of the funding for the vaccines will come from the Vt30 billion Australian aid to Pacific Island Countries, specifically for COVID-19 vaccines, and the government contribution will be derived from an Asia Development Bank (ADB) loan. Mr. Tamata assured that these funds are secured.

He said once the vaccines are here, the first 20% of the population to receive the vaccines will be border control workers, the health workers, the elderly of 60 years upward and then the rest of the age grouping; the children, women and men.

“The vaccination will be compulsory for the people of Vanuatu, meaning every people of Vanuatu will receive the vaccine,” DG Tamata said.

“It will be a major exercise for the government and the Ministry of Health to ensure everyone receives the vaccination.

“Different countries around the world have come up with different vaccines, but we want to ensure the vaccine we get is the safest and the best for our people.”

“In the meantime, Vanuatu continue to maintain tighter control on all our borders to ensure we keep COVID-19 out of Vanuatu until we receive the vaccine and ensure everyone in Vanuatu is vaccinated,” Mr. Russell Tamata, assures.

He all hospitals and health facilities will be used when the vaccine is rolled out in Vanuatu.

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