Malaita, the least vaccinated province

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SINCE the roll out of covid-19 vaccine (AstraZeneca) in Malaita province last year, only 19 percent of eligible population of nearly 90,000 had completed their doses.

It’s a worrying statistic and it means only 19 percent of population above 18 years in the province are protected from covid-19, while 81 percent are not.

Director of Malaita Provincial Health, who is also the Chairman of Malaita EOC, Dr Rex Maukera expressed the fear in the wake of the lifting of covid-19 restrictions.

The restrictions were lifted last Friday.

Maukera said the statistic shows the province still has a long way to achieve its aim to ensure the eligible population are fully vaccinated and protected from covid-19.   

He said covid-19 vaccination coverage for the province is 36 percent for those with first dose and only 19 percent for those that completed their second doses.

“The biggest contributing factor to this low vaccination rate in the province is ‘hesitancy’,” Maukera said.

“That is the majority of people continue to believe in unreliable information from sources like social media and others,” he added.

Maukera said the current vaccination rate shows Malaita is the least vaccinated province and that signals catastrophe in the event of a future covid-19 outbreak.

“The good news however, is covid-19 vaccination is continuing in Auki town and at the moment the provincial health is administering the roll-out of AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and booster vaccines.

“There will be another roll out of the vaccines in the province and communities are asked to support the provincial health on the program.

“And I asked all stakeholders in the province to support the provincial health by passing right information to our people so that they understand and accept the vaccines.

“There were incidents where health workers facilitating the vaccines were chased and threatened by certain communities.

“Everyone must understand that we are trying our best to provide health services to our communities and we depend on them to make it happen.

“I call for cooperation from communities to support the upcoming vaccination roll-out to protect the province from covid-19.”

Maukera said as Pfizer will be part of the roll out; they hope the eligible population can be able to get their vaccine to protect them and everyone from the virus.

He said as covid-19 restrictions are lifted, Malaitans are asked to continue uphold hand washing, face masking and social distancing.

Maukera said the EOC for covid-19 at Kilu’ufi hospital will continue to monitor the COVID situation in the province.