The small Pacific country of Palau has more than 99 per cent of its eligible population fully vaccinated, contesting top spot in the world for COVID-19 vaccination rates, according to government data.
Other Pacific nations have also raced up the global vaccine leader board. The Cook Islands has 96 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated while 96 per cent have received their first jab in Fiji, according to Cook Islands and Fiji Government data.
While there is success in parts of the Pacific with COVID-19 vaccine rollouts, there are still countries that have low vaccination rates. Less than 10 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated in Solomon Islands and Kiribati, according to Our World in Data. In Papua New Guinea, less than 1 per cent of people are fully vaccinated.
Head of the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Pacific Office, Katie Greenwood, said:
“It is important to celebrate the success of reaching high vaccination rates in many Pacific countries, including Palau, Fiji and the Cook Islands, which is saving lives and helping people to rejuvenate their livelihoods shattered by this pandemic.
“While the pace of vaccination has been remarkable in some countries, it is critical that vaccines doses are made available to every country across the Pacific so the doses can be delivered quickly.
“Building vaccine confidence is vital in the Pacific to make sure we reach a critical mass of people vaccinated in all countries. With restrictions easing, it is important we achieve even higher vaccinations and keep up public health measures. No one is safe until we are all safe.”
Red Cross has been playing a leading role in vaccination campaign rollouts alongside health authorities in Pacific countries, supported by the IFRC.
With the Pacific cyclone season, only weeks away, every effort needs to be maintained to prevent further impacts on livelihoods already ravaged due to the pandemic.
“Across the Pacific, hundreds of trained Red Cross volunteers have been helping to ramp up vaccinations, including in the most remote communities. We have been building vaccine confidence by listening and talking through key concerns.”
“It’s critical that we try to get everyone vaccinated ahead of the cyclone season, which threatens to damage homes and infrastructure, stretching resources and services needed to contain COVID-19.”