The bulk of the AstraZeneca vaccines that will arrive in the country today will be deployed to the Western border zone where the highest urgency exists to protect our people.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare announced this arrangement in his Special National Address today.
The Government is focusing attention on protecting people at the Western border zone following the surge in covid-19 cases in Papua New Guinea, especially, in neighboring Bougainville. The surge has created high transmission risk for border communities in the Shortlands, Choiseul and the Malaita Outer Islands.
These border communities have strong trade and family connections in Bougainville and the risk of transmission there remains high.
Prior to the commencement of the vaccination program in Honiara Wednesday next week, Prime Minister Sogavare has once again urged people over eighteen years living in the border region to get the vaccine as the only way to protect themselves from covid infection.
“Fellow citizens living along the western border emergency zone, I ask all of you that are above 18 years of age to take the COVID-19 vaccination when the team comes. This is the only way we can collectively protect ourselves, protect our families and protect those under 18 years of age that cannot yet take the vaccines,” Sogavare said.
He added that accepting the vaccine would help our individual and collective duty as citizens to protect each other from the COVID-19 virus.
Sogavare said local health authorities are aware of concerns expressed by some people of the side effects of vaccines, which attempts to scare people from being vaccinated.
Based on scientific advice, Sogavare said some people might develop mild side effects, such as pain or itchiness at the injection site, or a short period of feeling unwell. Such side effects are common in other injectable medicines we take when we are sick.
So far, the serious side effects reported in the media overseas are not directly linked to the COVID-19 vaccines.
“I encourage you all, to be ready to receive the Vaccine when the vaccination teams are deployed to the western border,” Sogavare said.
Meanwhile, health authorities have decided that all vaccinations in Honiara will be done at the Central Field Hospital from Wednesday next week.
This is because the Field Hospital is well equipped for mass vaccinations but importantly to observe people after they receive their vaccinations.
Sogavare is happy to lead the nation into this vaccination program after the launch on Wednesday morning.
The Honiara vaccination roll out is expected to be completed within a week before medical teams will be deployed to the western border to roll out the vaccination program.
It is crucial that the vaccination programme is commenced in Honiara so that the medical teams are seasoned by the time they deploy to the western border where support facilities maybe a little more limited.
The Ministry of health will be working with all Frontline ministries and agencies to finalize a list for the COVID-19 vaccinations in Honiara.
They are also working with teams in Choiseul, Western and Malaita Outer Island Provinces to finalize the vaccination stations and lists within the next 10 days.