By LULU MARK
AS Papua New Guinea prepares to receive the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine Sinopharm this week, Health Minister Jelta Wong is urging the people to take the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Covax-Facility as its expiry date is approaching.
Wong said the with the World Health Organisation (WHO) approval of Sinopharm as one of the vaccines for the world, it had been cleared by the country’s scientific and pharmaceutical boards for use.
He said the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines would also be brought in.
Wong also highlighted the slow uptake of the AstraZeneca vaccine after he welcomed the 11th medical team from China to the Port Moresby General Hospital and thanked the Chinese government through Ambassador Zeng Fanhua for the donation of medicines, medical equipment and consumables worth K300,000 yesterday.
He said it would be a great shame if some of the 132,000 doses of the AstraZeneca distributed throughout the country expired without being used.
According to the Covid-19 National Control Centre the ones sent to Western, Western Highlands and East Sepik would expire on July 18 while the others that were sent to all the other provinces would expire on July 29.
As of last Wednesday, 44,327 people were vaccinated of which 6,805 were health workers, 36,056 were essential workers and 1,466 were those with comorbidities.
Wong said they were pushing to get all the doses out but if some expired more would be sourced to cater for what was lost through expiration.
“It’s a great shame if we (have the vaccines expire in PNG) because the rest of the world needs this vaccines and we are so lucky to get it here,” he said.
“The Government, we went straight in and we argued with them and we got it here but to have it wasted like this is a real shame.”
He said it was a challenge trying to convince people to get vaccinated when people in the health fraternity were also not taking it.
He said many people were dying from variant strains of Covid-19 around the world and getting the vaccine now was the best way to protect PNG.
“Health workers are saying they don’t have information but the information is everywhere and you can’t use that excuse anymore.”
By LULU MARK