BY MAVIS N PODOKOLO
SOLOMON Islands will today officially launch its vaccination programme.
This historic event will take place at the central field hospital, Multipurpose Hall, Honiara.
The programme begins by using AstraZeneca vaccine, which is the first of many promised covid-19 vaccines for the country.
The first batch of vaccines arrived on Friday last week met welcome fitting for celebrities, and mixed feelings from the general public.
The first jab of the double-dose vaccine will be administered from hereon, with government determined that the 24,000 vaccines received will be used to inoculate 24,000 people.
The second jab is expected to be administered to this first 24,000 people sometime in May or June this year.
Seven thousand doses have been earmarked for frontliners in Honiara, with the rest (17,000 doses) to be sent to the western border, where frontliners and communities there are to be vaccinated.
Today’s event will start with an opening prayer to be offered by Father Selwyn Hou, welcome remarks to be delivered by Health Minister Dr Culwick Togamana, remarks by WHO country representative, UNICEF Chief of Field Officer and keynote address by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
Vaccination starts after this.
The inoculation will be led by Prime Minister Sogavare as the first to be vaccinated to demonstrate his confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Sogavare in his national address on Monday confirmed that will be among the first to receive the vaccine shot.
“Fellow Solomon Islanders, to demonstrate my confidence on the AstraZeneca vaccine, I will be among the first to receive ‘vaccine shot’ after the official launch on Wednesday morning this week.
“Many other leaders have also decided to take the vaccine after the formal launch. Please join us and take the vaccine when your turn comes,” said Sogavare.
He said in Honiara, the priority is for all front-liners, key people in all front-line ministries and agencies including those in the private sector such as front-line workers in Solomon Airlines, Ports Authority, and other private sector firms.
“Our national leaders including all members of the National parliament are also included in the first roll-out of the first 7,000 doses of the vaccine to be deployed in Honiara.
“We also anticipate some people above 55 years of age, that have existing diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma to also benefit from the first roll out of the vaccines.
“For every one that comes please bring your work IDs. For those over 55 years of age with existing diseases, please also bring with you your medical record cards or books. This will ensure your medical history is known,” said Sogavare.