Vanuatu will be receiving its first batch of 24,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine sent through the COVAX Facility tonight.
This was confirmed by the Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Spokesperson on all COVID-19 matters, Russel Tamata.
Air Vanuatu is expected to deliver the doses tonight. The handover of the vaccines to the Government will happen at the Port Vila Airport.
This first batch of doses, part of more than 100,000 doses initially allocated to Vanuatu, aims to cover 20% of the country’s population prioritising those more at risk in line with global recommendation.
Priority groups in the first phase of the vaccine rollout are health workers, frontline workers such as border workers, quarantine facility staff, public transport drivers, the elderly and those with underlying conditions.
The government, through the MoH has been preparing for this moment with the assistance of donor partners. The delivery of vaccines means that frontline works and high-risk population can begin to be vaccinated.
Awareness and consultations on the vaccine rollout have been rolled out. A plan has been developed to guide the introduction vaccines and health workers have been trained to provide vaccinations.
The rollout plan initially targets Efate and its offshore islands.
The government expects to receive enough vaccines to vaccinate the first 20% over the course of this year, 2021. The remaining population will be vaccinated throughout 2022 to 2023.
Vanuatu will be receiving the remaining doses from COVAX facility in batches.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Government has also offered 20,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine that has recently been approved for use by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to Vanuatu for free.
The MoH is working to identify additional sources of vaccines, including through bilateral partners.