Tonga launches Covid-19 vaccination programme

Tonga’s Princess Salote Pilolevu Tuita was the first person to be vaccinated for Covid-19 as the kingdom rolled out its vaccination programme Thursday.

Princess Pilolevu was followed by her husband Lord Tuita and Prime Minister, Dr. Pohiva Tuionetoa.

Frontline workers also received their Covid-19 shot at Falemasiva Hall in Havelu.

Dr. Reynold Ofanoa the Acting CEO for Health said today is a historical day for Tonga, it’s the day we had prayed for, the day of hope because of the  official launching the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and we are truly humbled to have HRH to be the first one to be vaccinated which is a great support.

Tonga's first 24,000 doses of the vaccine that arrived on 31 March 31, was secured from the COVAX facility, after negotiations that were led by the Minister of Health.

Dr ’Ofanoa acknowledged WHO and UNICEF in facilitating this process.

It is enough to used or vaccinate about 20,000 people in Tonga at the age of 18 and above.

Dr Ofanoa also said that according to the World Health Organisation 136 million people have contracted Covid-19 and 2.9 million of people have lost their lives from Covid-19.

It is fortunate for Tonga to remain Covid free and this was through negotiations and working together between the PM, church leaders, NGOs, our people and other countries which strengthen our relationships, said Dr. ‘Ofanoa who also received his first vaccine shot.

The COVAX Facility is committed to provide further doses.

He said a total of 43,200 doses from COVAX will cover 20 percent of Tonga’s population.

Dr 'Ofanoa also reassured the public, that latest evidence from three countries showed that this vaccine's prevention rate against Covid-19, has increased from 70 to 76 percent, after two doses.

He also said that while the AstraZeneca-Oxford will not provide 100 percent protection they are still urged the Public to continue practicing prevention measures, such as hand washing and stay home if unwell with respiratory symptoms.

Princess Pilolevu thanked the stakeholders for the joint efforts that have ensured Tonga remains Covid-19 free, after a year.

She commended Government, the PM, Minister of Health and health officials for excellent planning, and standing together with other frontline workers such as Police and HMAF.

She said that being vaccinated is for preparation as there is a proverb that states prevention is better than cure the public needs to follow the Government’s plan and be vaccinated.


Photo supplied Amelia Mounga  Caption: Princess Salote Pilolevu Tuita (left) receives her AstraZeneca vaccine 

Amelia Mounga