Central Islands Province (CIP) has launched their COVID-19 vaccination program at the provincial capital, Tulagi, with Premier Hon Stanley Manetiva the first to receive the jab.

Curious onlookers gathered around the front of the Tulagi Multi-Purpose Hall where the event took place.

In welcoming guest of honours, attendees and the public, CIP Health Director Dr Leslie Bunabo, highlighted the day marks the end of preparations to roll out the vaccines and the start of the actual work to vaccinate the eligible population of around 19,000 people in CIP.

“Thank you to the provincial government, the national ministry of health, donors and development partners, churches and communities for your support in our preparations for both the launch and actual roll out as our teams will after today move to their respective work zones to administer the vaccines”, said Dr Bunabo.

Mr. Robert Manebona, Provincial Coordinator Community Governance and Grievance (CGGP) said that the CGGP is pleased to have supported the province’s health team with COVID-19 preparedness phase and with the launch and roll out of the vaccines, CGGP will continue to provide support where possible.

The CGGP is funded by World Bank through the Ministry of Provincial Government to establish a fully- fledged village governance model in CIP to improve the village social infrastructure, in which health is also part of.

CIP Provincial Police Commander Mr David Soakai who is also the Coordinator of the Provincial Emergency Operation Centre (PEOC) explained that RSIPF is at the forefront of COVID-19 operations providing safety and security thus the arrival and roll out of vaccines in CIP is good news for the provincial force.

“Many of our officers are yet to be vaccinated thus this roll out has now offer us opportunity to get vaccinated and stay protected whilst discharging our duties to support COVID-19 operations and vaccine roll out amongst others”.

Representative of Faith Based Organization in CIP, Father Leslie Boroko in his remarks stated that the availability of COVID-19 vaccines is a manifestation of God’s act to rebuild humanity from the effects of this pandemic. He also added that God gives life thus anything that gives life surely comes from God.

“With this, surely the vaccines are God given as they offers us an opportunity to preserve our health and continue with our lives, it is COVID-19 that kills as we have seen”.

Accompanying MHMS delegation to CIP was Hannah Van Voorthuysen, Deputy High Commissioner of New Zealand and Ella Ballerini of UNICEF who both used the occasion to advocate for the safety and efficacy of the vaccines with assurance of continued support as donors and partners of the Ministry of Health towards COVID-19 response and current efforts to roll out the vaccines.

MHMS Deputy Secretary Health Care, Dr Gregory Jilini in delivering MHMS highlighted that CIP is the sixth province so far that the Ministry has rolled the vaccines out to and it is aiming to get the vaccines launched and roll out commence for all provinces as soon as possible.

“With the COVID-19 delta variant that spreads rapidly which has badly affected our neighbouring countries like Fiji, there is no time to waste, all persons 18 years and above must get vaccinated so that we are protected, our children who are not eligible for vaccination are protected and thus our families, communities and country as a whole."

"To date over 63,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered with no deaths recorded and only 1 Anaphylaxis or severe reaction case registered which was immediately treated with the patient now well. All minor side effects such as headaches, sweating, shivering and so forth all subsided and gradually disappeared in 1 to 2 days. Therefore there is nothing to fear and stated by previous speakers so please come forward if you are 18 years and above and get vaccinated”, said Dr Jilini.

Delivering the key - note address at the event was the Premier of CIP Honourable Stanley Manetiva who thanked the National Government, Oversight Committee, Ministry of Health and all donors and development partners for the job well done in rolling out the vaccine to CIP.

“Central Islands Province, is close to the capital Honiara with the two major ports of entry, international airport and port. With daily frequent travels to and fro the capital by our people, the risk of contracting COVID-19 infection in the event of a community transmission is very serious for us therefore the vaccines today will greatly help us to quickly get vaccinated and stay protected against the health impacts of COVID-19.

“The Central Provincial government will continue to work closely with our provincial health teams to ensure necessary support is provided to get as much as possible all vaccine eligible people of the province vaccinated”, stated Premier Manetiva.

Source: MHMS Media