Marshall Islands President David Kabua received his Covid vaccine from Majuro hospital nurse Harry Harry in late january, becoming one of over 70 percent of adults living in Majuro to be vaccinated. Photo: Giff Johnson

MAJURO (RNZ PACIFIC)—Nearly 75 percent of adults in the Marshall Islands’ main towns have received their first dose of the vaccine to protect against Covid-19.

Just over half of adults in Majuro and Ebeye have received both shots of the Moderna jab.

RNZ Pacific correspondent Giff Johnson said the Marshalls is getting plenty of help from the U.S Centres for Disease Control

“The Ministry of Health, went out on a very aggressive programme doing community outreach, house to house vaccination drives and it really resulted in a very high delivery of vaccinations.

There’s been some people that have concerns in and there, and of course there is a lot of mis-information, but overall, the response from the Marshall Islands has been really good,” he said.

People in remote outer islands will also be offered the vaccination starting from this week.

Now, with the urban centers nearly complete, the Ministry of Health and Human Services is planning to take its moderna vaccine campaign to remote outer islands starting this week.

Majuro and Ebeye were priority target populations for the Ministry of Health. But now, with additional vaccines arriving, it is scheduling Covid vaccine trips to Jaluit and Wotje later this month, to launch the vaccination program in remote outer islands.

The Marshall Islands is getting plenty of help from the U.S Centres for Disease Control (CDC), which on Friday delivered 10,000 doses of the new Johnson and Johnson brand Covid vaccine, a single-shot vaccine, that will be used for most outer islands.

In addition, CDC announced Tuesday it is giving the Marshall Islands US$1,248,812 to support local efforts to increase vaccine uptake by expanding Covid-19 vaccine programs.

While the Covid vaccine is being provided on a voluntary basis, there are discussions now within the ministry’s Public Health Department about changing this for people who are in “front line” type positions or who are at high risk of potential exposure and transmission should the virus reach Marshall Islands.

The ministry is currently discussing the possibility of making Covid vaccination mandatory for people serving in public capacities, such as healthcare workers, teachers, food servers and taxi drivers and others who serve the public on a daily basis.

With the arrival of 10,000 Johnson and Johnson vaccine doses this weekend, the ministry can fully rollout its outer islands vaccine program. It has also been receiving over 10,000 Moderna vaccines each month.

“Once this shipment arrives this weekend of 10,000 Johnson and Johnson vaccines we will have all the vaccines needed on island to vaccinate our entire adult population here on Majuro, on Ebeye and on the outer islands,” said Secretary Jack Niedenthal. “This puts us ahead of most places in the world,” he said….PACNEWS

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