The Shefa Provincial Government, through its Shefa Health Office, and the Maritime Wing of the Vanuatu Police Force are working together to administer Covid-19 vaccination in Shepherd Islands and Epi.

The operation commenced at the weekend with the mobilisation of Shefa Health Officers to load Covid-19 vaccines and other medical equipment onto RVS Takuare.

Three health teams have been deployed in Shepherd Islands and Epi to administer the vaccine.

One team departed from Port Vila with RVS Takuare to vaccinate eligible members of the population on Matasso, Makira, Buninga, Tongariki and South Epi. A second team flew to Emae and Tongoa, while a third team flew to Epi Island. Teams include doctors, nurses, volunteers and civil status officers. Crewmembers of the RVS Takuare are providing security services during the vaccination rollout.

“I am pleased that collaborative efforts from different government organisations are coming together to protect our people against Covid-19 in rolling out safe and effective vaccines. I acknowledge the Ministry of Health, the Vanuatu Police Force, NGOs and health partners for their support in conducting this large-scale operation involving critical human resources and national and provincial assets,” said Secretary General for Shefa Province, Kalwajin Skepha

Three WHO-approved vaccines are being offered to the eligible population of these islands. These include AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Sinopharm.

“I have no doubt that people in the Shepherd Islands and on Epi will come forward to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their communities against Covid-19. Our health workers on the ground have undertaken excellent groundwork with community leaders and Chiefs to inform and prepare local communities,” said Shefa Public Health Manager, Obed Manwo.

Shefa Health Office is also taking advantage of the use of RVS Takuare to transport heavy weight medical equipment to improve health service delivery across its jurisdiction. The RVS Takuare will also ship food and basic needs donated by communities in Port Vila to help families in these islands during this difficult time.

The Australian Government is supporting this operation through the Vanuatu Health Program in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Vanuatu-Australia Defence Cooperation Program that works with the Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing.

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