The SHEFA Provincial Health (SPH) team has delivered a series of awareness sessions to provide accurate information to frontline workers about COVID-19 situation and World Health Organisation-certified AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
Since the Vanuatu Government has approved the rollout of a safe and effective vaccine to combat the threat of highly infectious COVID-19 disease, the Ministry of Health (MoH) Risk Communications Team has been working with SPH to deliver awareness sessions to relevant organisations to ensure a successful and peaceful rollout of vaccination program.
The SPH team held a Training of Trainers course to nurses practicing on Efate Island to provide them with COVID-19 up-to-date information and then deliver similar awareness sessions. Health workers on Efate island as frontline workers are amongst the first priority group to receive a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
“Nurses are critical to any health system to deliver healthcare services to individuals, families and communities. In the face of COVID-19, they become extremely instrumental to reassure the population and to implement the vaccination program. I take this opportunity to thank them all for their ongoing dedication, hard work and courage to protect our communities from COVID-19,” said Director of Public Health, Len Tarivonda.
Then SHEFA Provincial Health Team with assistance of SHEFA Provincial Government, SHEFA Red Cross Branch and Action Aid, has delivered awareness sessions about COVID-19 to other frontline workers. This includes personnel from all quarantine facility sites (Ramada Resort, Moorings Hotel, Tamanu on the Beach Resort and Spa, Iririki Island Resort and Spa Vanuatu, Aquana Beach Resort, Warwick Le Lagon, Holiday Inn Resort, Erakor Island Resort and Spa, Tropicana Lagoon Resort Accommodation), Vanuatu Airports Limited, Airport and wharf Immigration and customs, Vanuatu Police Force (VANSEC House and Vanuatu Police College, Southern Command, Vanuatu Mobile Force, Vanuatu Maritime Wing), Ifira Stevedoring and casual workers, South Sea Shipping, Pacific Aviation Safety Office and Vanuatu Sport Association and National Olympic Committee (VASANOC). SHEFA Provincial Health also met the management personnel of the Vila Central Hospital to discuss the rollout of the vaccination program.
“I thank my team for conducting these awareness sessions and all people involved to make them happen including all frontline workers who kindly participated in and asked relevant questions. This exercise provides an opportunity for all of us, frontline workers, to raise our concerns and prepare together an effective rollout of the vaccination program. I’m confident frontline workers understand COVID-19 vaccine is Vanuatu’s safest option to fight the threat of COVID-19,” said SHEFA Province Public Health Manager, Obed Manwo.
“These awareness sessions are very instrumental to inform our frontline workers with reliable information. Some participants have heard different false and incorrect stories from social media. Diffusing these incorrect messages is extremely detrimental to Vanuatu safety. It is important to remind people to listen to official sources of information such as the website of the Ministry of Health and its Facebook page and to stop spreading rumors,” said Lola Iavro, Health Information Officer at SHEFA Provincial Health.
So far, over five hundred people have attended COVID-19 awareness sessions held by the MoH. In the coming weeks, the SPH team will deliver similar activities with provincial and municipal leaders to communities on Efate Island. The SPH team through support from Save the Children organisation will also continue to engage with frontline workers to get them registered for the vaccination.
WHO, UNICEF and the Australian Government through the Vanuatu Health Program support the MoH to respond to COVID-19 and to roll out a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19.