Vanuatu’s COVID-19 Spokesperson says the COVAX Facility – the international body established to ensure global access to COVID-19 vaccines – has accepted Vanuatu’s request to have access vaccines.
Russel Tamata says this is possible through a submission by Vanuatu to join other countries in the world to have access to COVID-19 vaccines when it’s ready for use.
Mr Tamata says Vanuatu has successfully completed initial negotiations to access the vaccines and must now make legal and other preparations to import the COVID-19 vaccines into the country.
“At this stage we are working with the State Law Office to look at the official processes to be able to import the vaccines,” Mr Tamata said.
“We are currently working on that.”
Sixty-four higher income economies have joined the COVAX Facility, a global initiative that brings together governments, manufacturers, scientists, the private sector, civil society and philanthropy, to ensure COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need, whoever they are and wherever they live.
Mr Tamata says when the vaccines arrive in Vanuatu, 50 per cent of the population will get access to the vaccine.
He says this will involve an initial focus on people at higher risk of catching the virus, including all frontline workers working with repatriations and in treatment and quarantine facilities.
He says Ni-Vanuatu with non-communicable diseases are also at higher risk and a 2012 report revealed almost 90 per cent of the population of Vanuatu has a non-communicable disease.
Mr Tamata says donor partners are ready to help Vanuatu pay for the vaccines and for the logistical costs of rolling out the vaccinations in the country.
He says any vaccines imported into Vanuatu will be approved by the World Health Organisation and will match Vanuatu’s environment and climatic conditions, including temperature.
Mr Tamata says the Ministry of Health is making it clear to the public that the vaccines may have side effects for those who get them.
“This is normal because some people’s bodies can react to a new vaccine,” Mr Tamata said.
He says according to current discussions, the COVID-19 vaccines are likely to be available in Vanuatu in the middle of next year, 2021.
Vanuatu has only had one confirmed case of coronavirus, which involved a local man returning from the United States.
There has been no confirmed coronavirus deaths.