AFTER weeks of delay due to the recent civil unrest the Pfizer vaccine was officially launched to commence its roll-out program.
Government through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) together with Ministry of Education and Human Resources, United States (US) Embassy Office in Solomon Islands, UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO) in-country participated in the launching ceremony at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) car park.
At the launch yesterday two students from Woodford International School and Burn Creek Adventist Primary School took their first Pfizer jabs.
Health Minister Dr Culwick Togamana in his keynote address stated the ministry is very delighted that they can wrap up 2021 by launching an important health preserving and life-saving opportunity for two groups of the population.
“Ladies and gentlemen as you all know we are gathered here today (yesterday) to launch the Pfizer vaccines for our children between 12 and below 18 years of age and pregnant. T
“his Pfizer vaccine like AstraZeneca and Sinopharm already in roll out across the country for all persons 18 years and above, is purposely to preserve our health and thereby lives against COVID-19 infection,” Dr Togamana said.
He added, practically this means, recipients or receivers of the Pfizer will also develop soldiers in their bodies to fight against COVID-19 should they contract the virus, preventing them from falling very sick, admitted at the hospital and die from COVID-19.
He explained, Pfizer vaccine is amongst eight vaccines approved by the WHO for emergency use globally and endorsed as well by the national drugs and therapeutic committee for use in Solomon Islands.
“What does this mean? It means every single aspect of this vaccine from its development, safety, effectiveness and efficacy, storage and how it will be administered and all others have been properly assessed before rolling it out.
“So the key message I would like to share to all of us is that this vaccine is safe for use for our children 12-18 years of age and pregnant mothers and effective to help prevent them from falling sick, admitted at the hospital and die from COVID-19,” Dr Togamana said.
Dr Togamana stated the country’s success in providing Covid-19 vaccines to the people would not have become reality without the support from donors and partners.
“As such let me express sincere appreciation to the government and people of the United States of America for providing these 100 thousand, 6 hundred and 20 doses of Pfizer that we are launching today and ready to roll out.
“Your support channelled through COVAX Facility will ensure equitable distribution of the vaccines across the world, which is critical for the world to come out of the pandemic successfully. No one is safe until everyone is safe and this means that every single person needs to be vaccinated so that we are all safe,” Dr Togamana said.
He also thanked UNICEF and WHO for all necessary preparatory work on the ground, done well in time for the arrival of the vaccines including relevant trainings. These include the ultra-cold fridges at the National Medical Store and continuous work to maintain and enhance cold chain across the country.
“Thank you as well to Ministry of Education who will be supporting us in rolling out the vaccines from the schools including all other stakeholders. Only together we can make this a success.
“To all health workers who will be rolling out the vaccines I stand in salute to you all for job well done so far with current AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines. It is truly not an easy task but your stead- fast commitment and dedication to serve our people will truly go a long way in protecting our country and people against COVID-19,” Togamana said.
Meanwhile, US Embassy Office in Solomon Islands, Director Mr. Russ Comeau stated he is honoured on behalf of the Embassy to mark the launch of Pfizer vaccine doses that donated by the United States people.
“This vaccine represents a critical step to fight against Covid-19 and a journey back to normalcy here in the Solomon Islands,” Mr Comeau said.
He added many countries have suffered loss and sickness of Covid-19. However, Solomon Islands remain safe and Covid-19 free throughout the pandemic.
He then commended Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and the government for their swift and strong actions to close the borders to prevent wide spread community transmission of the virus.
By ESTHER NURIA