The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) is urging members, their employees and eligible members of the general public to be vaccinated to protect them from the COVID-19 virus as soon as possible.

SICCI, as the peak body representing private sector in the country, acknowledges that vaccination is the most effective and efficient means in which we can protect ourselves and our country against the deadly virus as waiting for a community transmission will already be too late.

“As a Chamber, we commend Government through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services for rolling out the country’s vaccination program in Honiara, Guadalcanal, Choiseul and Western Provinces including Malaita Outer Islands,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ms Natalina Hong, said.

“However, we share the same concern on the slow uptake of COVID-19 vaccination in the country to a level that would protect our population from COVID-19 in the event the virus breaches our borders and reach our communities,” she added.

Since the March 2021 launch only 47,921 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm, 1st and 2nd dose had been administered. Only 12,183 people had been fully vaccinated, with 1st and 2nd doses. This represents only 2.9 percent of the national target population of 414,327 people. Only 23, 555 people having received their first dose at this point.

The SICCI Secretariat and Board have been vaccinated since the vaccine became available and we urge member businesses that interact with the public to do likewise.

“Vaccination is one of the main ways to protect our communities and businesses to reduce the possibility of community spread if and when our borders are reopened,” Ms Hong said.

“SICCI supports Government’s cautious approach to date, but with efforts to keep the country’s economy afloat at this difficult time we cannot afford to keep our borders closed forever and isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. With the stringent measures taken many member businesses are struggling to survive especially those in the tourism sector,” the SICCI CEO said.

Unless a significant number of the targeted population receives the vaccine, it will be difficult for Government to make a decision on opening our borders, as such, the Chamber urges all eligible residents where the vaccination program is been rolled out who have no underlying medical conditions to take the vaccine so we can get our economy back on track.

“The real impact on individual businesses, their owners, the people they employ, and their families who depend on them will be severe and felt for many months to come if we have community transmission in our communities.”

Source: SICCI Media