More Covid vaccines hit RMI

Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal, left, receives his first Moderna brand Covid vaccine from nurse Mineko Mista December 29. He was joined by Public Health Director Dr. Frank Underwood who was getting his first shot from nurse Rosabella Jennet. Photo: Giff Johnson.

Since the rollout of Covid vaccinations in RMI shortly before the New Year, the Ministry of Health and Human Services has vaccinated 612 healthcare workers and other “front line” employees.

Meantime, the RMI’s Covid vaccination program for the public will soon be moving into high-gear, with the arrival in Majuro of 6,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine this past Monday. That is enough to vaccine 3,000 people, as each person requires two shots to complete the Covid vaccination.

The initial 612 healthcare and front line staff vaccinated accounts for the first 1,200 vaccines provided by the US government in late December. All of these healthcare and front line workers will have to receive a second dose at the end of January.

“We used all of the vaccines for the front liners and the healthcare workers,” said Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal Monday. “It’s a little over 600 because sometimes you can get more than 10 vaccines out of one vile.”

A vaccine update from the ministry issued Monday this week shows that the breakdown of the vaccine distribution from the first 1,200 doses received is 382 for healthcare workers and 230 for front line people.

Most of the 612 people who received their first dose are in the 25-44 and 45-64 age groups. A handful — 27 — are 65 and older. A few —23 — are in the 19-24 age group, according to the report.

A total of 406 people on Majuro and 206 people on Ebeye were the first to receive the Covid vaccine.

The RMI is using the Moderna brand Covid vaccine. Niedenthal said that Moderna has confirmed that its vaccine is effective not only on Covid-19, but also to prevent the recently identified “variant” that is said to be much more contagious than the original variety of coronavirus. “From everything I’ve read the vaccine is effective (against the variant),” he said.

Of the 6,000 doses of the vaccine received January 11, 4,200 have been designated for Majuro and 1,800 for Ebeye, according to the Ministry of Health and Human Services.

With vaccine production now in high gear in the US, the number of doses being provided to the RMI by the US government is ramping up from the initial 1,200 doses provided shortly before the New Year.

A third batch of Covid vaccines is scheduled to arrive on the January 16 United Airlines flight from Honolulu. Additional Covid vaccines are expected to continue arriving. They are being provided without cost by the US government, through the Centers for Disease Control.

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