PM the first to take Chinese COVID vaccine

This week, Prime Minister Bob Loughman stepped up to be the first person in Vanuatu to receive the Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine.

The Chinese Government has donated a supply of its Sinopharm vaccine which, like the already-in-circulation, AstraZeneka vaccine, is approved by the World Health Organisation.

Prime Minister Loughman said he wanted to be the first to take the Sinopharm vaccine to show to the people of Vanuatu that it is also safe and effective in the fight against the COVID-19 virus.

Initial vaccinations have started in Port Vila with the AstraZeneka vaccine donated by the World Health Organisation and development partners, through COVAX.

The Prime Minister says the Sinopharm vaccine is the second COVID-19 vaccine to be used in Vanuatu.

“I decided to step forward and be the first person in Vanuatu to take this [Sinopharm] vaccine,” he said.

“I want this to give reassurance to every person in Vanuatu from south to north.

“COVID will stay around – so if we want to improve our economy and get back to normal business like before, every one of us must get the vaccine to protect ourselves.

“Then we can also allow other friends to come to Vanuatu.”

Prime Minister Loughman encouraged community leaders to invite their communities to take the COVID-19 vaccines.

He says the vaccines are not compulsory but people should listen to the health ministry’s information about the benefits of the vaccines and make “the right decision”.

“These COVID-19 vaccines are similar to the vaccines we have already been taking to protect us from diseases such as polio and the measles,” the Prime Minister said.

The PM took the Sinopharm vaccine at an event on Tuesday in Port Vila, along with the Chinese Ambassador to Vanuatu, Zhou Haicheng and three Government ministers.

They were: the Minister for Finance and Economic Management, Johnny Koanapo; the Minister of Justice and Community Services, Esmon Saimon; and the Minister of Trade, Tourism and Ni-Vanuatu Business, James Bule.

More than 100 others also took the vaccine at the launch, including Chinese nationals.

One Chinese national at the event said he believed the Ministry of Health had done a good job in rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, including to Chinese nationals.

The Vanuatu Government hopes to roll out the Sinopharm vaccine in Vanuatu as of next week.

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