Most puna clinics will close for about 10 weeks from May 10 for staff to assist with the vaccine rollout, says Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health (TMO).
Normal services will remain at
the main hospital and Tupapa Outpatients. The two puna clinics that will still
be in operation are the Tupapa Clinic for dressings only, and Nikao Clinic for
Health secretary Bob Williams
has confirmed the vaccination roll-out will happen this month but did not say
whether it will start before the commencement of two-way quarantine free travel
with New Zealand on May 16.
Quarantine free travel
communications coordinator Karla Eggelton said further details on when the
vaccine will happen will be provided early next week.
Eggelton said front-line
workers such as customs, airport staff and frontline health workers will be the
priority for vaccination. She said further information on the rollout will be
given next week.
People living in the Cook
Islands over the age of 16 are eligible for the Pfizer vaccination.
Secretary Williams said: “The
vaccine will be free, and it is the Pfizer vaccine being made available by New
Zealand. The Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be around 95 per cent effective
at preventing you from getting seriously ill if you catch Covid-19, once you’ve
received both doses of the vaccine.”
A total of 217,603 people in
New Zealand have received a single Pfizer vaccine and over 87,000 are fully
vaccinated with both shots.
Williams said: “Once again we
owe thanks to our New Zealand friends not just for this life-saving vaccine,
but for the help and protection we have been afforded by the actions taken by
New Zealand to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in New Zealand, and therefore
providing a buffer for us too.”
In a statement, Te Marae Ora
said as part of the Cook Islands vaccine deployment plan, from May 10 most of
their puna clinics will close for about 10 weeks, through until the end of
June, to allow nurses and puna staff to be mobilised to help facilitate the
vaccine roll out and maintain normal services up at the main hospital and at
the Tupapa Outpatient as well as Public Health services.
However, people who require
medical attention are encouraged to go to the Tupapa Outpatients and Emergency
Department (Tupapa OPED) from Monday, May 10 until further notice “if you’re
ill and need medical attention”.
Anyone with cold, flu or
Covid-19 symptoms, is encouraged to call 20065 or 20066 for medical advice
before going to the Tupapa OPED.
Te Marae Ora will provide a
further update on the vaccination roll-out programme for the whole of the Cook
Islands once both governments have made a public announcement “in the next week
or so” on when the Cook Islands will receive the vaccine from New Zealand.