House-to-house a success

Monday this week, the Ministry of Health and Human Services staff gathered for an early morning program to launch a two-week house-to-house Covid immunization campaign. Photo: Ministry of Health and Human Services.

GIFF JOHNSON

The government ramped up its ongoing Covid vaccination program Monday this week by starting house-to-house immunizations throughout Majuro.

The move takes a page out of the measles vaccine program three years ago and the initial start of Covid vaccines in January 2021 by taking the program into the community.
Monday’s outreach effort showed the result of this community-based initiative by the Ministry of Health and Human Services: A total of 594 Covid shots were delivered to people, 356 of which were booster shots. The 606 shots in one day is over half of what the ministry was doing in seven-day periods last month, and three times the number given out in the past two weeks.

Tuesday’s vaccination numbers were even more impressive. Deputy Secretary of Health Mailynn Konelios-Lang told the Journal that the house-to-house Covid vaccine program administered 792 doses Tuesday, with 356 of these being booster shots. The ministry is urging everyone who is five years and up to get the Covid vaccine or booster shots, if eligible.

During Tuesday’s Ministry of Health and Human Services outreach Covid vaccine program in Laura, nurse Gederick Henos administered a Covid shot for Councilman Kanson Basin. Photo Eve Burns.

Over the past several months, as Covid booster shots became available, the uptake of the boosters has been modest. Although there was a spike in people getting the third booster shot in January after news of three positive Covid border cases at Kwajalein and the spread of Covid in Kiribati, Palau and elsewhere, the numbers dropped off by the end of January. In the two weeks from January 26 to February 9, only 140 people came into the hospitals on Majuro and Ebeye to get the boosters. As of February 9, 5,255 people — 24 percent — of the the 18-year-and-older population have obtained booster shots.
The Ministry of Health and Human Services’ immunization teams set out Monday this week to change the picture. They began a massive campaign in the community to cover all of Majuro Atoll, from Laura to Rita, giving Covid vaccinations for those who have not had them yet, and boosters for those who have already been vaccinated. The house-to-house vaccine program will run for two weeks.

“This is without question the best way to defend both you and your family against Covid-19,” said Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal in a statement. (Vaccination) “is the way we defeat this virus.Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. We know from other countries close by to us that those who have been vaccinated and booster-ed do not get nearly as sick as those who have not. Most if not all of the hospitalizations and serious cases and even deaths are suffered by those who have not been vaccinated.”

Niedenthal pointed out that people in the Marshall Islands are “vulnerable to this virus because we have extremely high numbers of people with diabetes and other health issues that causes Covid to be even worse.”

He urged people to get vaccinated and to take advantage of the immunization teams that are coming to people’s doorstep with the vaccines.

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