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Some Pacific governments still battle anti-vaxxers while Nauru celebrates success

Nauru has reported a successful Covid-19 vaccination campaign while authorities in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands are struggling to convince their people to take the vaccine.

Nauru ended its official campaign for the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Saturday, July 3.

President Lionel Aingimea said 90 per cent of the country’s target adult population was now fully vaccinated.

“While the campaign has been successful we still need those 678 people to get their second shot,” he said.

“There is a high degree of confidence that nearly all adults on Nauru will be protected from the coronavirus.

However the president revealed that some Nauruans remain “unvaccinated and vulnerable”, pointing to those who are under 18 years and are not eligible to take the AstraZeneca vaccine. This group makes up approximately 40 per cent of the population.

“At this stage Nauru does not have any further supply of the vaccine but the Government and taskforce are looking at avenues for further supply through the Covax Facility as well as discussions with Japan, Australia and India for additional vaccines,” he explained.

Nauru President Lionel Aingimea. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In the Solomon Islands, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has criticised a small group of health workers who had promoted misinformation about Covid-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness.

“While I respect individual points of view, I will not allow deliberate misinformation to scare people that wish to protect themselves from Covid-19,” he said.

“If such deliberate misinformation continues, those involved will be held accountable in accordance with provisions of the relevant regulations.”

In Papua New Guinea, health officials are battling against vaccine misinformation, vaccine hesitancy and a fast-approaching expiry date for the vaccines.

Recent official reports revealed that a little more than 40,000 people out of the 8 million-plus population have received the vaccine while more than 100,000 doses remain unused.

Senior health officials are worried that convincing the public and even health workers to take the vaccine is very challenging.

Prime Minister James Marape said: “When the entire world is looking for vaccines, it will be quite sad if we have some vaccines that go to waste”.

“The Government is doing everything possible to have the vaccine available and if you do not get yourself vaccinated and you feel sick and (maybe) die, then you have yourself to blame,” he said.

In Samoa, recent health ministry reports indicate 41.9 per cent of the eligible population received their first doze of the AstraZeneca vaccine while 5.9 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated. This may have increased by now.

Samoa is tightening entry rules due to a delayed and short supply of the vaccine coupled with fears over the presence of the Covid-19 Delta variant in Fiji.

As of July 6, 329,837 adults in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine and 56,974 have received their second doses, the country’s health ministry said.

This means that 56 per cent of the target population has received at least one dose and 9.7 cent is now fully vaccinated nationwide.

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