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Te Kukupa II to transport latest batch of Covid-19 vaccines to Palmerston

Thursday 25 August 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in National, Outer Islands

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Te Kukupa II to transport latest batch of Covid-19 vaccines to Palmerston
Te Kukupa II. Photo: SUPPLIED/22060901

A ship will be sent to the remote island of Palmerston carrying the latest batch of Covid-19 vaccines.

The shipment, which goes out on Monday next week on the police patrol boat Te Kukupa II, will take five vials of adult vaccine (12+ age group vaccine), equivalent to 30 to 35 doses, in a special credo box with dry ice due to travel time to Palmerston. Te Marae Ora staff will also be onboard.

Palmerston island is one of the most remote in the Cook Islands, with a population of about 30 people.

It has a school with eight pupils.

Cook Islands director of hospital health services Dr Yin Yin May said it would take about 18 hours for the shipment to reach its destination.

May said the targeted audience is everyone over the age of five.

Palmerston island is one of just two islands in the Pa Enua that have not had a Covid-19 outbreak. The other is Pukapuka.

There have been 6265 cases of Covid-19 in the Cook Islands since the pandemic began, with Rarotonga having the bulk of those with 5119.

Palmerston Island Lucky School principal Sherrin Hibbard said everyone on the island had already had two jabs.

“We can’t have people here from outside the islands at the moment. We understand that there are quite a few people of ours who are still in Rarotonga and got stuck there,” Hibbard said.

“From my understanding, the boat will arrive and depart on the same day.”

Hibbard said people on the island felt “very lucky” that there hadn’t been any Covid-19 cases.

“Obviously, we’re well aware about the damage it’s caused to the outside world. We’ve encouraged our students to display good hygiene practices during the last vaccination rollout,” she said.

Hibbard said people will be social distancing and mask-wearing while they are getting vaccinated.

“It’s something we haven’t had to do until recently, for us on the island, it has kind of been business as usual,” she said.   

“What happens next for the island is up to the island council.”