Leader of opposition Matthew Wale has called on the government to speed up its covid-19 vaccination roll out programme, saying the slow pace could be counter-productive and is inexcusable.
He said the slow pace is an unnecessary delay in taking advantage of the most feasible strategy for preventing potential community spread of the deadly virus.
“Vaccines have been shown to prevent hospitalisation and death, and are therefore key to reopening the country,” said the Opposition Leader.
“The best strategy for protecting our people against the risk of community transmission is to ensure that at least 80 percent of the people are vaccinated quickly.
“As already proven, the chances of suffering the extreme consequences of a covid-19 infection is low amongst vaccinated persons and if the majority are vaccinated, the likelihood of community transmission if it were to occur, would be mitigated,” Wale highlighted.
“Given the higher transmissibility of new variants and the recent increases in infections in Fiji and PNG, it is important that our approach to vaccination approach be significantly scaled up.
“I therefore call on the government to urgently review its roll out strategy and to place more emphasis on the need of getting people quickly vaccinated.
“After several months of the start of the vaccination roll-out, only about three percent of the population has been vaccinated. This is simply not good enough.
“The vaccination roll out must now be taken to clinics, churches, markets, schools, villages, communities and other population centres in a proactive campaign. The vaccination programme must now also include the whole of population of Solomon Islands, not just target areas.
“We are running against time and so the roll out program must be pursued aggressively. There is no good reason for the current slow pace of the vaccination roll out.
“Likewise, I also encourage our people to take the threat of the virus seriously now more than ever, and to make extra efforts to get vaccinated sooner than later. It is good for oneself, the family and the whole country. The new variants emerging are more transmissible and it is important that we are all vaccinated.
“Further, I call on the government to do as other countries have done and also include children under 18 years of age in the vaccination programme.
“They represent a significant demographic in our population and given that other countries are doing it, we must ensure that they too are protected. The technical health advisory can recommend the vaccine candidates most suitable for young people below 18 years of age and the government must commit to procuring those.
“In the meantime, I continue to applaud our front-liners for their dedication and service to our country. I also encourage our medical experts to continue to carefully monitor treatment and the effectiveness of the vaccines,” the Opposition Leader expressed.