In an effort to increase vaccination coverage in the country Cabinet has now endorsed the mandatory administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Minister of Health and Medical services, Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana, confirmed this shift in vaccination strategy during his national address yesterday.

“I stand here today in my capacity as the Minister responsible for protecting and improving the health of our population, and on behalf of the Prime Minister who is on provincial duties and on behalf of the deputy Prime Minister and my Cabinet Colleagues to inform you that the Cabinet at its sitting on Friday 30 July 2021 has approved the mandatory administration of COVID-19 vaccines,” Dr Togamana formally announced.

He says that the mandatory vaccination applies to the following;

  1. all public servants and employees of the central and provincial governments and eligible members of their families,
  2. all staff of state-owned enterprises [SOEs] and other government institutions / subsidiaries and eligible members of their families,
  3. employees of private companies undertaking work at the front-lines – such as shipping agents, airlines, stevedores, crews of fishing vessels and eligible members of their families. 

“The Cabinet has agreed that persons coming under these three groups in the provinces where COVID-19 vaccination rollout had already commenced including Honiara, Western Province, Choiseul Province, Guadalcanal Province and Malaita Outer Islands must now receive their first doses of COVID-19 vaccination by 31st August 2021 and their second dose by 30 November 2021,” Dr Togamana said.

Dr Togamana warns that those covered under the three categories who chooses not to get their 1st dose of vaccination by 31st August, will not be allowed to access their place of employment, and any person in the three categories not fully vaccinated by 30th November 2021 will be taken as having chosen to self-terminate their employment.

He says Cabinet has set a national vaccination target of 80% 1st dose vaccination coverage nationally by 30th November 2021, and an 80% 2nd dose vaccination coverage nationally by 28 February 2022.

“Fellow Wantoks, the government respects people’s individual choices. However, the government has a duty of care to protect the total population of Solomon Islands.

“As we have seen during this pandemic the only thing that has been effective in preventing or altering the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic is full and effective vaccination coverage of the total eligible population.

“As a responsible government, we will not wait for community transmission to occur before making vaccination mandatory. We must ensure our total eligible population is vaccinated before COVID-19 has a chance to reach our communities,” Dr Togamana said.