Victoria Fatiaki and Moana Kiriau, who celebrated her 16th birthday yesterday with her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. 21100813
At 8am yesterday the Nikao Social Centre was brimming with people, with an overwhelmingly positive response from parents and guardians who accompanied their children to receive their first Pfizer vaccination.
Over 500 Rarotonga residents received
their first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on day one of the rollout,
targeting children aged 12 to 15 years.
As of 7pm last night, 513 were vaccinated
– 360 aged 12 to 15 years and 153 adults. Thirty-four people received their
second dose after having received their first dose in the last vaccination
rollout earlier this year.
It is estimated there are just over 1200
young people in the 12 to 15 years age range in the Cook Islands, with majority
residing in Rarotonga.
The rollout will continue today and
tomorrow with the opportunity to be vaccinated taking place today from 8am to
4pm and tomorrow from 1pm to 4pm.
Father of two Matapo Makara brought his
son and daughter to be vaccinated yesterday. He said that everything was very
organised and it all flowed with no delays.
“I wanted my children to be vaccinated
because it will be a benefit for them. My wife and I support the vaccine for
our children because it will be for their benefit. Not for today but for the
future,” Makara said.
Bob Williams, the Secretary of Health,
said they were very grateful for the turnout on the first day, and for many of
the crowd who even showed up early.
The aim was to vaccinate just under 500
“The flow has been really good. We are
just very grateful to our people, and especially to the parents and guardians
of our children,” Williams said.
Although there was an expectation that the
decision for parents to get their children vaccinated might be a hard one,
Williams said by the looks of the numbers, this didn’t seem to be the case.
“For those who are still in doubt, you can
contact our doctors here (Dr) Donna Mokoroa or Dr (Yin) May should they need
further information to fully inform them. I encourage them to do that,” he
Dr. Yin May shared her belief in the
vaccine and its administration to younger people as young people can still be
carriers of the virus.
Because of this she says it is important
that the Cook Islands population is covered as much as possible by the vaccine.
Dr May adds parents will continue to be
encouraged to bring their children to get vaccinated, but ultimately it will be
“We can’t force them. However, the world
is changing, if you are not getting vaccinated you are disadvantaging yourself
and your children in a way,” she said, referring to recent changes such as
airlines including Air New Zealand introducing ‘no jab no fly’ policies and
some schools around the world requiring vaccination certificates for students
to be registered.
Responding to some doubts many parents on
social media have had regarding the administration of the vaccine to younger
people still being in the “trial phase”, Dr May said: “I will not say this is a
trial, but we are developing as we go based on the clinical trials we have.”
For parents still in doubt, Dr May said:
“We have presented the best of what we know and have given references for
websites and places to get information. We can’t force anyone, but we will
still encourage them to consider.”