Frontline staff will be first in line for Covid-19 vaccine

Thursday 25 February 2021 | Written by Emmanuel Samoglou | Published in National

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Frontline staff will be first in line for Covid-19 vaccine
A registered nurse, prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a community center in the Bronx on Feb. 4, 2021. (James Estrin/The New York Times)

As New Zealand continues to carry on with its Covid-19 immunisation programme, details are beginning to emerge on how the vaccine rollout will look like here in the Cook Islands.

Government employees and others working at the nation’s borders along with frontline healthcare staff will be among the first to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, a government spokesperson said.

Government workers including those at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Police, Customs, Ministry of Agriculture, Ports Authority, Te Marae Ora (TMO) Ministry of Health, and staff with Air New Zealand are at the front of the line to receive the vaccine.

Next in line will be Cook Islands’ high-risk population.

Yesterday, government provided some details on how it intends to deliver vaccines to residents. A swift vaccination programme rollout has been cited as key to bringing relief to the beleaguered economy.

Government spokesperson Jaewynn McKay said: “I can confirm that the vaccination plan has been completed and that Te Marae Ora is working on a vaccination awareness programme for Rarotonga and the Pa Enua, this will begin next month.”

“Further I can advise that discussions continue between Te Marae Ora and the New Zealand Ministry of Health regarding the vaccine roll-out and that the two Ministers of Health will be having a discussion on this topic in the coming weeks,” she said.

While no details on the specific vaccine have been provided, McKay said Government has requested enough doses to cover “all the eligible population in the Cook islands”, which includes residents over the age of 18.

She said infrastructure is in place to properly store the vaccines, some of which require cold temperatures. Local health workers have been trained to carry out immunisations, while the New Zealand government has also offered its assistance.

“The final details of the programme will be released next month,” she added.

In an ANZ bank report published last month by regional executive (Pacific) Tessa Price and economist Kishti Sen, a quick vaccine rollout with international support was cited as a key component for economic recovery in the region.

Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Eve Hayden said they have yet to see the government’s Covid-19 vaccination policy, but have held discussions with Te Marae Ora officials over the matter.

“They seem confident that a timely rollout of vaccinations will be achieved once the vaccine most suitable for the Cook Islands becomes available,” Hayden said.