COVID-vaccine to Vanuatu’s north by end of August

Vanuatu’s health department says it aims to launch COVID-19 vaccinations in northern Sanma Province by the end of August.

Sanma Public Health Manager, Vanua Sikon, says preparations are progressing well to start rolling out COVID-19 vaccines in Sanma in three weeks.

He says the Sanma COVID-19 vaccine awareness team has been undertaking information and awareness activities in communities across the province.

And, he says the procurement of material and equipment to open up vaccination clinics is progressing well.

Mr Sikon says in Luganville the Sanma COVID-19 vaccine team will be providing vaccines from the Ground Floor of the NISCOL Terminal for two weeks.

They will prioritise giving vaccines to at-risk groups including health workers, frontline workers at the airport and wharfs, transport drivers, people with underlying medical conditions and the elderly.

They will then provide vaccines to other eligible groups.

Mr Sikon says the vaccine team will then move to health centres around Sanma.

They will start vaccinating in the Canal Fanafo Area and will then move to Port Olry in East Santo; the Vulesepe Health Centre in South Santo Area Two; and to the Avunatari Health Centre on Malo Island.

“The team will set-up for two weeks in those health centres, and each day a mobile team will visit communities to provide vaccines to those who cannot access the centres,” he says.

“From our experience in Shefa [Province], we know that accessibility can be a barrier to people getting vaccinated.

“People have said they have no money to buy transport fares to get to the fixed vaccination sites to get their doses.

“We want to improve on that and make sure we have good coverage of the COVID-19 vaccine in Sanma.”

Mr Sikon says communities have responded really well to the COVID-19 information and risk awareness outreach activities that have been run.

“We have found that the level of confusion in communities on COVID vaccines is very high. Many people are confused,” he said.

Mr Sikon says the quality of the doctors, nurses and public health officials in the Sanma COVID-19 vaccine awareness team has given communities the confidence to get the vaccine.

He says the team faced some issues with misleading information from some church and community groups but has been able to properly inform and reassure communities.

He says the message now from representatives of the churches, women, youth and chiefs is that their communities are ready to get their COVID-19 vaccines.

 

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