BY BERNADETTE H. CARREON
KOROR, Palau — Health officials in Palau are preparing to start vaccination by January, with the first batch of the Moderna vaccine due to arrive in Palau on New Year’s Eve.
Under the Ministry of Health’s vaccination plan, the ministry expects that by April nearly all of Palau’s population will be vaccinated.
Palau’s 15,000 vaccines are expected to be shipped into the country from the United States in the next four months.
The Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and other U.S. jurisdictions will receive vaccines from the U.S. through Operation Warp Speed.
Palau will receive its Moderna allocation at about the same time as the FSM and the Marshall Islands (See “Marshall Islands ready to launch COVID vaccinations, with more coming,” on Page 4). Moderna vaccines require two doses; the second dose is administered 28 days after the first.
President-elect Surangel Whipps Jr. in an interview with local media on Dec. 23 urged health officials to begin vaccination after receiving the vaccines and not wait until Jan. 11 to roll them out.
“There is no reason to wait until Jan. 11. We need to act with a sense of urgency and show our appreciation to be part of Operation Warp Speed,” Whipps said.
“We need to act swiftly. We are in Operation Warp Speed, not Operation Slow Speed,” he said.
The Ministry of Health also conducted a survey — 50% of those surveyed agreed to be vaccinated.
The vaccine is also raising hopes that Palau will be able to reopen tourism. mbj