The Ministry of Health and Human Services (MHHS) announced that on Monday it would begin vaccinating adolescents aged 12 to 17 against coronavirus.

MHHS said the Pfizer vaccine will be given to the 12-17 group tentatively scheduled to begin on July 26.

Assistant Liaison Officer for the MHHS COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Operation, Gaafar Uherbelau said based on the latest data, that there are an estimated 1, 700 aged 12 to 17  in the country.

Pfizer is the first vaccine manufacturer to gain emergency use authorization for the younger group.

President Surangel Whipps Jr. said the vaccination push will increase the number of fully vaccinated individuals in the country.

He said it will bring the percentage of the entire population fully vaccinated in Palau to almost 90 percent.

“We are already in the herd immunity, this will bring us to herd, herd immunity,” he told reporters Wednesday.

According to the MMHS, as of July 16, 2021, there are 14,038  aged 18 and above fully vaccinated.

According to the latest census, the population of Palau is 18,000. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been administered to the adults here.

Despite the high vaccination rate, the president said it will ensure that the country remains, “protected and safe,” requiring travelers into Palau are fully vaccinated and provide negative tests from COVID-19. 

Whipps said with the high vaccination rate he hopes the frequency of airlines from the United States will increase. 

Tourism Minister Ngirai Tmetuchl said there are talks to open travel bubbles with Singapore and Korea.

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