The United States Government provided 52,650 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Solomon Islands via the COVAX Facility to strengthen the country’s response to COVID-19.
Solomon Islands has received 52,650 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines from the United States Government through the COVAX Facility – a partnership co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO), with UNICEF as the key delivery partner.
These latest donations from the American people will contribute towards fully vaccinating 26,325 people, including pregnant women and children aged 12 to 18, in Solomon Islands. This is in line with the country’s National Deployment and Vaccination Plan.
This delivery builds on the November shipment of 100,620 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines donated by the United States Government, through the COVAX Facility.
These vaccines were handed over to the Solomon Islands Government in an official ceremony recently held at the National Medical Store. In attendance were the Hon. Minister of Health and Medical Services, Dr. Culwick Togamana, Director of the United States Embassy Office in Solomon Islands, Russell Comeau, Chief of UNICEF Pacific’s Solomon Islands Field Office, Dr. Zelalem Taffesse, WHO’s Public Health Officer RMNCAH/EPI Coordinator, Tracy Melissa Prasad Kofela as well as Ministry of Health and Medical Services’ officials.
“In November last year, we received our first consignment of 100,620 doses of Pfizer vaccines generously provided by the United States Government via the COVAX Facility. Since then, we have administered a total of 21,157 Pfizer doses, excluding those used for booster doses. A total of 7,388 children are also fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which is eight per cent of the total population of the target age group. In addition, 813 pregnant women have also received either one or two doses of the vaccine,” said the Hon. Minister of Health and Medical Services, Dr. Culwick Togamana.
“Today, we once again gather to formally receive another 52,650 doses of Pfizer vaccines. Thank you indeed to the United States Government and the COVAX Facility, including WHO and UNICEF, for making this possible. These vaccines will ensure that more of our children and pregnant mothers are able to be vaccinated against COVID-19, along with the purpose of booster doses. So, these additional doses will ensure that we leave no one behind in our efforts to protect our people against COVID-19.”
The Hon. Minister of Health and Medical Services, however, added that more work is still needed to reach the target population as only around 43 per cent of vaccine eligible population are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“To my fellow Solomon Islanders and residents, we have been provided with these vaccines for free, and therefore let us not waste this wonderful opportunity to protect ourselves from falling sick and even death from COVID-19. I recently met virtually with my counterpart, Tonga’s Health Minister, who said that Tonga had experienced transmission rate of more than 300 people infected per day. This is higher than Solomon Island’s 200 per day when the transmission was at its peak. Yet only three deaths have been recorded with no hospitalizations in Tonga. This is because over 90 per cent of their vaccine eligible population are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Therefore, it is critically important that we get fully vaccinated ahead of a possible second wave of infection thereby mitigating impact to our health and lives.”
Dr. Togamana highlighted that the Ministry of Health and Medical Services will review its roll out strategy to ensure that all bottlenecks are swiftly addressed to speed up the vaccine roll out to reach more than 90 percent coverage as soon as possible in time for planned reopening of borders.
“Vaccines are one of the best tools we have to control this pandemic. The United States is honored to answer the request of the Solomon Islands Government and donate these 52,650 Pfizer vaccine doses via the COVAX Facility,” said the Director of the United States Embassy Office in Solomon Islands, Russell Comeau “With support through USAID, we will continue to support the rollout of vaccines throughout the country, and we look forward to deepening our engagement and partnership with Solomon Islands in the coming months.”
“The COVID-19 community transmission in Solomon Islands puts thousands of people at risk for severe disease. We thank the United States Government for the timely partnership as well as the Solomon Islands Government for their leadership in combatting this pandemic,” said UNICEF Pacific’s Chief of Solomon Islands Field Office, Dr. Zelalem Taffesse. “The doses received will contribute immensely to the efforts to vaccinate eligible populations across the Solomon Islands. UNICEF will continue to work with the government and other partners to support vaccination efforts and other essential public health measures necessary to help keep the virus at bay.”
“No one is safe until everyone is safe and this means that every single person needs to be vaccinated so that we are all safe. This batch of Pfizer vaccines will greatly enable Solomon Islands to achieve increased coverage to various groups who otherwise would not be able to get vaccinated the children 12-18 years old and pregnant mothers,” said WHO’s Public Health Officer RMNCAH/EPI Coordinator, Tracy Melissa Prasad Kofela, who thanked the United States Government for channeling their support through the COVAX Facility, which will greatly ensure equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines across the globe.
Vaccines should complement, and not replace, proven public health measures. Solomon Islands, like other countries, will continue to apply tried-and-tested measures to successfully prevent and control transmission, such as physical distancing, masks, ventilation and hand hygiene, alongside robust programmes to test, trace, isolate and treat.
COVAX is the vaccine pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. The ACT Accelerator is a ground-breaking global collaboration to boost the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access to every country in the world.
The United States recently reached the milestone of half a billion COVID-19 vaccines delivered to countries around the world – the most donated from any nation and a significant step toward President Biden’s goal of donating more than 1.2 billion vaccines worldwide.
-Joint MHMS and US Embassy Press