Fijians could have access to COVID-19 vaccines by April, says Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Dr. James Fong.
And it would not cost anything because distribution would be free, with costs to be borne by the Government and overseas donors.
Dr. Fong said the ministry would gain access to vaccines through the World Health Organisation initiative COVAX facility, which Fiji is a signatory to.
“We could have Fiji’s vaccines ready before April, but we must never forget that the supply chain and freight movement around the world are not good at the moment,” Dr. Fong said.
“It would be available, but there would be no planes to pick it up. And we must look for a plane to deliver it for us.”
Dr. Fong said the priority list on who got vaccinated would be the same as the one adopted globally.
“First priority will be for the frontline staff, then the elderly, those who are vulnerable to the virus, and then the rest of the population,” he said.
“When the vaccines arrive in the country, we are expecting it to be free so that a greater population would be vaccinated.”
He said the ministry had set up a special task force to work with partners to access the vaccine and ensure the level of preparedness to use it well.
In an earlier interview, Dr. Fong clarified that these vaccines would stop some transmission, but not all.
“However, we expect that in due course it may change the way we do our quarantine and make the COVID safe measures less troublesome,” he added.