A fun filled COVID-19 vaccination roll out launch was held yesterday at the Taro Hospital, Choiseul Province with the Hon. Premier Watson Qoloni the first to receive vaccination.

Around a hundred school children in their uniforms paraded the Taro street with police escort as part of kick starting the launch event with shouts of joy and thanks towards the Government, the Ministry of Health, GAVI and the COVAX Facility for the arrival of the first batch of vaccines for Choiseul Province.

In his welcome remarks, Provincial Health Director William Timba jubilantly welcomed guests and officials including the school children to the launch.

“Thank you indeed everyone for coming out today to this important milestone in our ongoing efforts against COVID-19 and more especially our children for demonstrating your support although you are not eligible for vaccination yet, you will indirectly be protected once we get our eligible people vaccinated”, stated Mr Timba.

In delivering remarks of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services at the event, Chair of the Technical Working Group Dr Divinal Ogaoga highlighted that the threat of possible COVID-19 entry and community transmission at the western border remains a grave concern.

“As of Monday this week, Bougainville recorded a total of 171 cases, 58 of which were recorded in the past 12 days. In Papua New Guinea, over 10,000 COVID-19 cases with over a hundred deaths recorded. This demonstrates the capability of the virus to spread rapidly with potential to cause fatalities.

“These can be seen as merely figures or data, but they represent a son, daughter, father or a mother and while we sympathize with our brothers and sisters across the western border the situation give us all the more reasons as to why we need to come forward and get vaccinated once our turn comes”, explained Dr Ogaoga.

He added, “This has also been the main reason why the Ministry is prioritizing borderline communities in Choiseul along with Shortland and Malaita Outer Islands”.

Delivering the keynote address, Premier Qoloni highlighted that the provincial government and people are indeed grateful for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Sincere thank you to the national government, COVID-19 Oversight Committee, Ministry of Health and Medical Services including GAVI and the Covax Facility for making these vaccines now available with initial roll out for targeted group.

“Choiseul province has around 10,000 people residing in communities along the western border and with the threat just next door to our west. Hence, the arrival, launch and roll out of the vaccines is timely and will greatly boost our efforts to protect ourselves and the rest of the country against the virus”, said Mr Qoloni.

He urged the people of Choiseul to stand ready to come forward and receive the vaccines when their turn comes and in saying this the premier declared the commencement of vaccine roll out.

“It is with great pleasure that I now declare the roll out COVID-19 vaccination for Choiseul to commence. Thank you!”.

Source: MHMS Media Release