President-elect Surangel Whipps Jr. called on the Ministry of Health (MOH) to increase the speed of the vaccination as soon as the first batch of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Palau.
Health officials last week said that they plan to start administering Covid-19 vaccines to the population by January 11, although saying that they expect the first batch of vaccines to arrive this week.
“There is no reason to wait until January 11. We need to act with a sense of urgency and show our appreciation to be part of Operation Warp Speed,” Whipps said on Sunday in response to a text message regarding the planned vaccination schedule of MOH.
“We need to act swiftly. We are in Operation Warp Speed, not Operation Slow Speed, “ he said.
Palau’s access to the vaccine is made possible through the United States’ Operation Warp Speed.
Meanwhile, Gaafar Uherbelau Ministry of Health’s Emergency Operation Center’s (EOC) Deputy Incident Commander said the Jan. 11 vaccination schedule is a tentative date because they were unsure at that time when Palau would receive the vaccines.
“We just don’t know exactly when we get it so we set a tentative date for Jan. 11 because we knew we could expect shipment delays. If anything we can start vaccinating earlier than that,” he said in response to the call to move faster on the vaccination.
Yesterday, MOH reported that they expect to receive shipment this Thursday of 500 vaccines and will start vaccination on Friday, January 1st of the medical personnel.
Earlier MOH said, if things go according to plans, they expect that by April, nearly all of Palau’s population will be vaccinated, with 15,000 vaccine doses, in several batches expected to be shipped in the country over the next four months.
The early access to the vaccine is made possible through the United States Operation Warp Speed
President-elect Whipps in his first formal press conference last week cited a story about Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska sharing how a small town had set up a mobile unit at the airport waiting for the vaccine to arrive and people got vaccinated at the airport.
“We have no excuse to store it and wait for almost two weeks, “ Whipps said.
He said getting people vaccinated is an urgency that MOH must consider.
According to the Center for Disease and Control (CDC) website Palau will get its Moderna allocation, simultaneous with Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Reports say that RMI will receive its first batch of COVID-19 vaccine on December 28 and will begin vaccination as early as Wednesday to ensure that they will be able to give the vaccine to the country’s most vulnerable people.
Modema vaccines require two doses, the second dose is administered 28 days after the first.