Niue almost fully vaccinated but NZ dismisses travel bubble talk

Niue’s Health Minister, Sauni Tongatule, says 97 per cent of Niueans have now been administered with their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine roll-out, which took place in early June.

Only three weeks after the vaccine roll out in the country, he said the country’s population of vaccinated citizens is unmatched within the Pacific region.

However despite the progress, it won’t lead to a two-way travel bubble with New Zealand immediately.

New Zealand’s Minister for Pacific People’s, Aupito Sio told Stuff NZ that the Government will not rush to make a decision, but is focused on assisting island countries to finalise their vaccination programs.

“They want to vaccinate their population first before discussions of any two-way bubble,” he said.

Niue’s current population stands at about 1600, which means 1,164 people have taken their vaccine so far,” said Mr Tongatule.

He said the priority is now to complete the second phase of the vaccination programme.

The minister also appealed to those who have refused to be vaccinated to reconsider their decision.

He said the country must learn lessons from French Polynesia and Fiji, which are both in a second wave. French Polynesia has now, to date, the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the Pacific.

Opening its border last July, the country was struck by one of the worst outbreaks in the Pacific, with more than 18,000 people infected and more than 100 people dead.

Fiji followed French Polynesia as it recorded more than 500 active cases since April.

The New Zealand minister urged Niue and other Pacific Island nations to prioritise their people and health systems over their economies.

“Pacific countries are assessing what’s happening around the region and at the appropriate time, they’ll make their own decisions.”

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