The government is preparing for a nationwide vaccination campaign against COVID-19.

“I am pleased to inform you all that the COVAX Facility has confirmed the allocation of an indicative number of 108,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Solomon Islands,” Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said in his nationwide address earlier this week.

It is understood a vaccination policy is being prepared – given the scale of such a vaccination campaign a clear policy is needed to guide how it is being implemented.

Prime Minister Sogavare said the Ministry of Health has already activated technical teams comprising of our own health experts, supported by development partners to coordinate and contribute to different aspects of the COVID-19 vaccination planning and delivery process.

“I am pleased to inform you all that preparations are well underway for the roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Solomon Islands,” he said.

Sogavare said the aim is to get 40% of the AstraZeneca doses during the 1st quarter of 2021, and the remaining 60% during the second quarter of 2021.

AstraZeneca is currently the world's largest source of COVID vaccines, scheduled to deliver more than 2 billion doses this year. AstraZeneca's product is attractive to officials in many lower-resource settings because it's cheap and can be stored in conventional refrigerators.

It is understood the only potential delay in rolling out the vaccine is the granting of an “Emergency Use Listing”, or EUL, by the World Health Organization (WHO) to AstraZeneca’s products.

More importantly, this would mean that AstraZeneca's products or vaccines would then become eligible for the COVAX program. Solomon Islands has already submitted a formal request for the vaccine under the COVAX program.

The COVAX program or facility is run by WHO and GAVI (the vaccine alliance) which seeks to ensure that limited supplies of vaccines are available equitably around the world.

With OPMC &