50 nurses including public health workers who will be responsible for administering the COVID-19 vaccines along western border communities, mainly in the Shortland Islands, is now underway in Gizo, Western Province.
The training followed the prioritization of all persons 18 years and above along the western border communities in Western, Choiseul and Malaita (Malaita Outer Islands) provinces to receive the COVID-19 vaccines due to concerning increases of COVID-19 cases in Bougainville; neighbour to the west.
At the start of the training Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Technical Working Group Dr Divinal Ogaoga highlighted the importance of the training.
“ This trainings contain modules that will enable participants to be informed about the vaccines, to properly handle and administer the vaccines and conduct monitoring post vaccination to identify side effects and adverse events and respond accordingly”,
While stating that health workers who will be engaged in vaccination roll out in the Western Province themselves will need to be vaccinated before deployment to borderline communities, Dr Ogaoga explained the importance of rolling out vaccination along the western border. “With concerning increases of COVID-19 cases in Bougainville just beyond the western border, getting eligible persons there vaccinated is an integral component of the overall efforts of the government through the ministry to protect the country against COVID-19”.
“Should the virus find its way into the western border, there is a potential for it to spread into the rest of the western province and the rest of the country thus the prioritization of the borderline communities to be vaccinated”.
He said, “Nevertheless in order for us to properly roll out the vaccines along the border such training is very crucial. Therefore, I urge all participants to take as much as possible out from the training in preparation for our roll out in the coming days or weeks”.
Dr Dickson Boara, Director Health Western Province, welcomed the national health team deployed and reiterated that threat of COVID-19 entry and potential community transmission is of great concern.
“We are at the western border in close proximity to neighbouring Bougainville and additionally we operate one of the country’s international shipping pots, thus the risk of COVID-19 entry and transmission is very real on the western end. With the team deployed and the trainings conducted, we are looking forward to roll the vaccine as soon as possible”, stated Dr Boara.
He explained that since the start of the COVID-19 preparedness and response, numerous trainings on how to prevent contracting the virus have been conducted for western province front-liners, today we have the opportunity to build in ourselves defences that further enhance our safety when discharging duties at the frontline.
While training is ongoing, joint national and provincial health teams have also been deployed to the Shortland islands in the previous week conducting vaccine awareness, supporting joint borderline operations and maintenance of normal health services along Shortland communities and health facilities.