This week the Ministry of Health and Medical Service (MHMS) continues with the roll out of its COVID-19 vaccine awareness initiative for health workers at the MHMS headquarter, Guadalcanal Province and the Honiara City Council with specific session for health promotion officers who will be taking lead in all awareness and relevant vaccine communication activities here on.
152 workers attended and participated in the awareness sessions with plans now set to extend the awareness to medical staff at the National Referral Hospital and other line ministries and agencies engaged and supporting COVID-19 frontline operations.
The awareness involved presentations by the members of the COVID-19 vaccine technical working group members comprising of MHMS, WHO and UNICEF Immunization and health experts on the various COVID-19 vaccines, AstraZeneca vaccine which will arrive soon, its safety and efficacy, how it will be rolled out, who the priority groups are and why, followed by question and answer sessions.
While the focus last week has been on sensitization of health workers, this week we will reach out to the general public of Solomon Islands. The public will have an opportunity this Sunday (7th March) from 1-2pm on the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation for an update on these aspects of COVID-19 vaccine as well as interact through question and answer session with a panel of immunization and health experts.
The public is requested to obtain information from credible sources, the prime in Solomon Islands being MHMS and others such as WHO, UNICEF and other health care workers. You are strongly urged not to get misinformed about the vaccines from non-credible sources on social media. The Solomon Islands Government is committed to provide correct information to the people to take informed choice on getting vaccinated. We also appeal to general public to avoid putting wrong information on social media.
The vaccine awareness initiatives are part of the Communication Strategy of the Ministry of Health and overall preparation of health to promote and encourage uptake of the vaccine once it arrives, address fears and anxiety as well as myths and misinformation about the vaccine.
Roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine awareness and communication activities is aligned to the National COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment and Rollout Plan where COVID-19 frontline workers will first receive the vaccine followed by elderlies with 55 years of age and above, persons with underlying health conditions and the rest of the population. We will also closely look at the current epidemiological situation and threats to place the vaccine at strategic locations.
The first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine, AstraZeneca, scheduled to arrive this month will be administered only in Honiara and as such, these priority groups in Honiara will also be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine awareness and communication activities.
Current active channels for public to receive health updates on the COVID-19 vaccine are the Prime Minister’s fortnightly national address, COVID-19 oversight committee radio talk back show and radio health program on SIBC and MHMS Face-book page.
As of this Sunday (7th March), health will commence specific additional one hour radio talk back show focused on COVID-19 vaccine and radio jingles on SIBC and will continue to expand to digital media, print and so forth.