Following two weeks of intense COVID-19 vaccine trainings, workshops and awareness by national and western provincial health workers in Gizo, Noro, Munda and Shortland Islands, COVID-19 vaccine roll out was officially launched by the Supervising Premier of Western Province Honourable Isaac Tatapu this morning at the Gizo Hospital.
At the launch, Western Provincial Director Dr Dickson Boara delivered welcome remarks followed by the Health Permanent Secretary Mrs Pauline McNeil who cease the opportunity to express deep appreciation to the Western Provincial Government (WPG), all provincial government ministries, agencies, and partners for the exceptional commitment and dedication in preventing entry and transmission of COVID-19 in the western border.
“Since day one of our national efforts against COVID-19, our western border remains one of the greatest concerns due to illegal movements there and more recently the increasing cases in Bougainville, our neighbours to the west; nevertheless because of your commitment and dedication we continue to prevent the worst case scenario that is a community transmission. As such the ministry is in deep appreciation to you all”.
She explained that now with the availability of the COVID-19 vaccines Western Province has an added capacity to further strengthen its defence against COVID-19.
“COVID-19 vaccines provides us with an added capacity to protect ourselves, families, communities and country against COVID-19. Therefore it is critical that when our time comes to receive the vaccines, we must come forward willingly”, stated Mrs McNeil.
She also urged health workers to take the lead in demonstrating confidence towards the vaccines as the public are also heavily reliant on them for any health related decisions.
“Before entering this profession, we all took our oath to serve the health needs of our people thus by coming forward to receive the vaccines is a fulfilment of this oath in itself”, explained Mrs McNeil.
Mrs McNeil assured of the Ministry’s commitment towards securing more vaccines to cover for all eligible population.
“ For the time being there is limited supply so we have prioritized frontline workers at Gizo, Noro International Port, Munda Helena Goldie Hospital and all persons 18 years and above along Shortland Islands and once more supplies come we will open for remaining groups”, said Mrs McNeil.
Supervising Premier Hon. Isaac Tatapu in delivering the key- note address highlighted that the COVID-19 global pandemic had affected many countries around the world as well as the region.
“Daily routines, socio-economical aspects of people’s lives have been greatly affected and Solomon Islands Is no exception, though without community transmission. How much more if there is community transmission?” question Mr Tatapu.
He added that because of this, all opportunities to prevent a community transmission and protect us from being sick, hospitalized and die from COVID-19 must be fully utilized and this includes the now available vaccines for our priority groups.
The Supervising Premier thanked the national government, oversight committee the Ministry of Health and all other line ministries and agencies in all efforts to keep the country safe from COVID-19 and for another opportunity, the COVID-19 vaccines, for the country to further protect itself against COVID-19.
“ I wish to also acknowledge all frontliners and support staff of the Western Province and also national teams on occasional deployments for the great job at the western border in the Shortlands, Noro, Munda and Gizo”,
Having said that, Mr. Tatapu officially declared that the roll out of COVID-19 vaccination in Western Province can now commence.
The official launch program was followed by vaccination of the Hon Tatapu, Gizo frontliners, provincial police officers, other frontline partners such as Solomon Islands Red Cross including members of the Provincial Health Emergency Operation Centre and National Disaster Management Officers.
Teams will be deployed tomorrow to Munda, Noro and Shortlands for continuation of the vaccination roll out.