BY SAMIE WAIKORI
Current illegal harvesting of beche-de-mer in Luaniua, Ontong Java, has reportedly hindered successful vaccination of all eligible people there.
A government health team which recently toured the Malaitan outliers, Ontong Java and Sikaiana, released a report saying this led to only 50 percent of Luaniua’s eligible population being vaccinated.
The health team also stressed the continued high risk in Luaniua due to this low vaccination turnout.
Only 270 people out of the estimated 1000 eligible 18-years-old and above from Luaniua community and nearby settlements were vaccinated.
The report elaborates that other contributing factors could include myths about the AstraZeneca vaccine and associated fears among the islanders.
But, regarding myths, the health team is adamant that it had debunked the false rumours attached to the vaccine before the vaccination programme ran.
The report also took into account the fact that the vaccination is not compulsory, which is taken as another possible factor contributing to the low turnout in Luaniua. In other words, some simply chose not to be jabbed.
However, the health team reported receiving information that a large portion of Luaniua’s population were scattered throughout the lagoon atolls on beche-de-mer fishing expeditions.
These people did not turn up for jabs, it is reported.
The report meanwhile said that the vaccination program was also conducted in Pelau (the other main island in Ontong Java) with an overwhelming turnout.
More than 400 people were vaccinated, equivalent to 80 percent of the small population on the island.
The report said the remaining 20 percent are those who recently left the island to Honiara.