President Tommy Remengesau Jr. and President-elect Surangel Whipps Jr. were among the firsts to receive the first dose of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to demonstrate to the public that the shots are safe and will protect them from the coronavirus.
Both leaders urged the public to get vaccinated and said they are hopeful that in the coming months more vaccines will be shipped to Palau from the US, enough to cover nearly all the 18,000 population.
“My serious advice or suggestion to anybody is please take the vaccine, we have nothing to lose , this will be a good thing, it is better safe than sorry. I have taken vaccine shots before for other flu, it’s just about the same thing. Nobody had died from being vaccinated. Right now , if we listen to science and doctors there is nothing really to be worried about,” Remengesau said yesterday, a few minutes after receiving the COVID-19 jab.
“We are very blessed to get this dosage, we have an opportunity to prevent covid from killing anybody,” he said,
“Please get vaccinated,’ he stated.
President-elect Whipps said the key government officials, including him, were there during the first day of the rollout to boost public confidence in the inoculation.
“That is why we are here, the leadership, to lead by example, we want people to feel confident that it’s effective and a good vaccine,” Whipps told reporters on Sunday.
He wants to allay the fears of the public and dispel misinformation about the vaccine.
‘We have to be the first ones to take it, so if we are going to die, we will be the first ones to die. If we are asking people to do it, we should be able to do it as well,” Whipps stressed.
He also praised the health ministry for acting swiftly to start the vaccination.
On January 2, the first batch of 2,800 doses of coronavirus vaccines arrived in Palau via a special flight from the United States.
The Ministry of Health started using the vaccine on January 3, prioritizing health workers and key officials and decision makers.
Vaccination will commence until Friday with the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions prioritized for the first batch of the vaccines.
Palau is among the first nations in the Pacific to access COVID-19 vaccines via the US Operation Warp Speed.
President Remengesau thanked the US government for the opportunity to get early access to the life-saving vaccines.
He said the special relationship Palau has with the US has made the arrival of the vaccines to the nation possible.
“I am very happy to see this. We are small so there’s always that apprehension that maybe we would be the last in line, but now that it’s here and now that we see eventually 80 percent of the people can get vaccinated. I am very fortunate and excited and really give thanks for the blessings from God and the friendship of the US,” Remengesau said.
The two leaders also said the vaccination roll out sparked hope that borders can be reopened and tourism can restart.
“We are hoping for the economy to come back, the health of the people should be addressed first and that’s the critical point,” Remengesau said.
Whipps meanwhile said getting vaccinated is a step closer to restarting the economy.
“Hopefully we can reopen and really restart our economy, which is really important for all those people and those 3,000 unemployed. Getting those people back to work is very important and also those visitors,” the incoming president said.
Other key government officials who received the vaccines are Health Minister Dr. Emais Roberts, Senate President Hokkons Baules, Sen. Stevenson Kuartei, House Vice Speaker Lucio Ngiraiwet, Minister Charles Obichang and former health minister Dr. Victor Yano. They will get their second dose after 28 days.
The MOH said they are aiming to get over 100 people vaccinated during the January 3rd and 4th schedule and further increase the inoculation from Wednesday to Friday.

Leaders take COVID-19 Vaccine

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