THE rollout of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine will continue in Papua New Guinea, Minister for Health and HIV Jelta Wong says.
Wong said with more than 1,500 essential workers already vaccinated in Port Moresby, he was confident that more would be vaccinated around the country.
Through the Covax facility, the first batch of 132,000 AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured by the Serum Institute of India arrived in Port Moresby yesterday morning in preparation for the Government’s national vaccination rollout.
This vaccine will be distributed to all provinces for the vaccination of healthcare workers and other frontline essential workers.
Through the Covax facility, a total of 588,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be made available to Papua New Guineans.
In response to the concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine, Wong said that to date, over 200 million doses of the vaccine had been administered worldwide.
“The European and United Kingdom regulatory authorities have reviewed and continue to review available data on reports of rare thromboembolic events in those who have been vaccinated in order to understand whether a causal link can be established with the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Wong said.
“They have concluded that the benefits of taking the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the known risks.
“If there is a link, the events are very rare and the risk is low.
“The risk of severe disease, death or hospitalisation as a result of the Covid-19 infection is serious.
“Vaccination is one of the key tools to preventing the Covid-19 and to ending the pandemic.
“Side effects may occur from any vaccine, but they are rare.
“It is important to remember that we are witnessing the largest mass vaccination campaign in history and some rare reactions are to be expected.” He said the infection rate in PNG continued to rise rapidly and as a responsible Government, “it is our duty to make vaccines available”.
“I reiterate that taking the vaccine is not mandatory, but it is definitely encouraged,” Wong said.
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