4,000 get Covid shots

President David Kabua, center, received the $500,000 donation from Taiwan Ambassador Jeffrey Hsiao, together with Cabinet members, Nitijela members, and members of the National Disaster Committee.

Over 4,000 people have received at least one dose of the Moderna Covid vaccine through Monday this week, according to the Ministry of Health and Human Services.

With 7,400 more vaccines arriving this Friday on the Asia Pacific Airlines cargo flight, it will be easy for anyone living in Majuro and Ebeye to get their vaccines. Once this ship arrives February 5, it will bring to over 20,000 the number of doses that have arrived, enough for over 10,000 people to be vaccinated since everyone needs two doses of the vaccine.

Starting Tuesday this week Public Health nurses began delivering Covid vaccines at the CMI Old Library and will continue at that facility through the week. They are also branching out to local communities around Majuro to step up vaccine coverage.

“This week we started on the 18 years old and above group,” said Secretary Jack Niedenthal. “We are at CMI this week, we will go door to door in Rita starting Wednesday and will begin working our way through the entire island over the next coming weeks. We will also be going to Laura.”

The RMI is meeting the goal that was set from the start of being able to immunize all adults for Covid, Niedenthal said. “Basically anyone 18 and above can now walk in and get vaccinated,” he said. This contrasts noticeably with the US — which is providing the vaccines to the RMI and other freely associated states — where rollout of the new vaccines have been slow. In many locations in the US, people are required to make appointments several weeks away to qualify for a vaccine.

But in Marshall Islands, the pace of vaccine delivery is steady if a bit slow as the ministry started its second month administering the shots.

The community level vaccines are complicated by the documentation required for every shot. “People need to realize there is more to this than just administering a shot,” Niedenthal said. In addition to the medical equipment needed in an outreach setting, including cold storage containers to maintain the quality of the vaccine, “the bureaucracy of this dictates that each and every shot you give has to be uploaded onto the CDC website every day that you are giving vaccines, which includes all kinds of demographic stats for each person. It is not an easy process.” 

Of the 7,400 more vaccines arriving this weekend on APA, 5,400 are for Majuro and 2,000 are for Ebeye.

Taiwan continues to provide large-scale aid for Covid-19 prevention in the Marshall Islands.

Taiwan Ambassador Jeffrey SC Hsiao handed over $500,000 to the Marshall Islands last week to cover the purchase, transportation and storage for Covid-19 vaccines. The handover ceremony was held at the RMI Cabinet Conference room with President David Kabua, members of the Cabinet, members of Nitijela, Chief Secretary Kino Kabua and other members of the NDC, and other officials.

Hsiao said Taiwan will continue to promote cooperation projects in line with the RMI government’s policy under two pillars – food security and Covid-19 response, evidence of which is this latest donation to facilitate rapid distribution of vaccines throughout the Marshall Islands.

The ambassador said this donation from Taiwan is not the first in 2021, and certainly will not be the last. 

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