RMI leads in Covid vaccinations

Ministry of Health staff and Red Cross volunteers show they’ve received their Covid vaccines during the Laura outreach vaccine campaign recently. Photo: Eve Burns.

The “Race to Vaccinate” in the Pacific region is happening, with the US CDC feeding US-affiliated islands with tens of thousands of Covid vaccines.

Majuro is leading the pack and Ebeye is doing well, according to a table published by the US Centers for Disease Control last week that shows vaccination rates from American Samoa to RMI to Palau.

“Majuro and Ebeye are kicking it,” said Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal in a social media post late last week. The CDC data was up to March 2 and showed Majuro is close to vaccinating 60 percent of its population 18 and up. The next closest island is Yap, which is just over 50 percent. Palau was nearing 40 percent, while Guam was below 30 percent.

Ebeye was at about 35 percent. The regional average for delivery of Covid vaccines in US Pacific islands is 30 percent, according to CDC.

Because almost no other Pacific islands outside of the US network have received Covid vaccines, this means Majuro is leading the entire region in Covid vaccinations.

“We still offer anyone over 18 years of age of all nationalities a Moderna vaccine on a walk-in basis, no lines, no wait,” said Niedenthal. The Ministry of Health and Human Services’ Covid vaccine supply was replenished last weekend with the delivery of 14,000 more vaccines from the US.

“I am really proud of all the people in our ministry and our community for this amazing effort on both Majuro and Ebeye,” he said.

As part of the ministry’ community outreach vaccination program, Majuro hospital nurses and Red Cross staff collaborated to launch the first Covid vaccine house-to-house delivery program in at the end of February. In Laura, three stations were set up for people to get Covid shots: at the Lobat and Lomar basketball courts and at the Laura clinic.

While other nurses went house-to-house giving out vaccines, councilmen were also picking up people and dropping them off at the stations to get their shots and taking them back home. The level of teamwork on display during the Laura vaccine day was impressive.

The Laura outreach program was also a chance for the nurses to clear up misinformation regarding the vaccine or Covid. Laura people are now well informed and “did you get your shot?” was the hot topic following the outreach program.

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