New Zealand High Commissioner to Solomon Islands Her Excellency Ms. Georgina Roberts was pleased to join on Friday afternoon the Minister of Health Hon Dr Culwick Togamana, his Permanent Secretary Mrs. Pauline McNeil, and Chief of UNICEF Solomon Islands Field Office Dr Zelalem Taffesse to welcome a batch of 28,800 doses of Astra Zeneca vaccine that Aotearoa New Zealand has shared through COVAX.
Responding to an urgent need for doses around the world, in April the Aotearoa New Zealand Government pledged to transfer 1.6 million doses allocated through COVAX to lower-income economies. These doses, entirely funded by New Zealand, will go to a number of low- and middle-income countries, with the first 211,200 allocated to six economies in the Pacific region: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga and Tuvalu. The dose-transfer is an immediate response to the challenge of global supply constraints – specifically, providing second doses to a number of countries that have rolled out COVAX doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Additional allocations will be announced as and when COVAX publishes new allocation rounds.
“As whanaunga, wantoks and friends, Aotearoa New Zealand will continue to support our Pacific partners at this challenging time. We are very pleased to see these shared vaccine doses arrive here in the country, so they can be added into stocks for the Solomon Islands Government’s vaccine roll-out,” High Commissioner Georgina Roberts said.
In addition to the dose-sharing, Aotearoa New Zealand will also provide funding to assist the Ministry of Health and Medical Services with NZ$2m to support the implementation of the national vaccination deployment plan to protect all Solomon Islanders and all individuals living and working here.
Health Minister Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana expressed sincere gratitude towards the prioritization of Solomon Islands by the New Zealand government in its initial allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses to the Pacific via COVAX.
“These 28,800 doses that arrived today will greatly enable the Ministry of Health with its current roll out of vaccination that is now open to all persons 18 years and above, starting in Honiara in the past weeks and as of today with Guadalcanal province”, stated Dr Togamana.
He explained that rolling out COVID-19 vaccine in Solomon Islands has its unique challenge pertaining to limited resources, scattered islands and high transportation cost. “With this, we are very pleased that New Zealand will also provide NZ$ 2 million dollars ( Around 11 million SBD) to support the ongoing implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine deployment plan. Thank New Zealand thank you so much”.
Vaccinations offer our communities the best protection against the health impacts of COVID-19. COVID-19 has affected us all. We will all benefit from a vaccinated world.