The Minister of Health, Silas Bule, is urging those eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to step forward when contacted in the first phase of the rollout.
“The vaccine is safe and effective and could save your life,” he said in a statement on today’s launch of the vaccination rollout.
Minister Bule also made it clear that the most exposed and most vulnerable are initially prioritised in this first phase of vaccine rollout.
“Our priority must be to protect the most exposed and most vulnerable first from severe illness and death,” he said.
“Along with the rollout of the safe and effective vaccines, we must also work towards a diverse vaccine portfolio. At the same time, we must be prepared to provide booster shots and adapted vaccines.”
The Prime Minister (PM), Bob Loughman, conveyed: “While the vaccine is not mandatory and people will be able to choose whether they would take the vaccine, many people in communities are much more at risk than others due to the nature of the job as well as those at risk of serious complications due to COVID-10.
“This is why the vaccine is being prioritised to protect them first.”
The vaccine — which needs to be administered in two (2) doses — will initially be prioritised for health care workers, frontline workers, border and quarantine staff and public transport drivers.
Other priority groups in the first phase of the rollout include elderly people aged 55 and above and people over 35 with existing medical conditions.
The vaccine will be rolled out initially to the prioritised populations on Efate and its offshore islands.
Some High level leaders will be receiving their first dose of the vaccine to show an example to the priority groups this afternoon at Convention Centre.
The health workers are scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday), Airport workers (Air Vanuatu, AVL, private airlines and Biosecurity) and Custom and Immigration on the next day.
Port Vila Land Transport Association (taxi, bus, common transport, rental drivers) will get their dose on Monday next week, quarantine facilities and wharf (Ifira Stevedoring, Ports and Harbor) on Wednesday, VMF/Vansec Police College and Maritime Wing the next day and priority groups 3 and 4 (elderly 44 years and above and people with existing medical conditions from June 14.
The MoH said “while administering of vaccines doses brings hope, other preventative measures must continue.
“Step by step vaccination the population will enable citizens, businesses and organisation to return to normal life as quickly as possible.”
The Ministry of Health (MoH) staff who are working tirelessly to deliver the first 24,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to priority groups and communities have been applauded.
The continuous support of its partners including: the World Health Organisation; UNICEF for leading on procurement and supply of COVID-19 vaccines on behalf of COVAX facility; and the Governments of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, UK for allocating funds to COVAX facility is also acknowledged.