Marshalls working to get early Covid-19 vaccine access

4:44 am on 30 November 2020

At least two Covid-19 vaccines produced by American pharmaceutical companies are expected to go into circulation shortly and the Marshall Islands is lining up to obtain an early batch, possibly as soon as January.

Part of Majuro hospital

Part of Majuro hospital Photo: Marshall Islands Journal

Marshall Islands officials will meet with US government officials in early December to discuss logistical issues with getting Covid-19 vaccines into islands.

The Health Secretary, Jack Niedenthal, said the US was working with the Marshalls government, as well as governments of the freely associated states of Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia, to ensure early vaccine access.

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced on 18 November that its vaccine was 95 percent effective in preventing Covid-19, and two days later another US company, Moderna, said its vaccine was 94.5 percent effective in early trials.

But the cold chain requirements of the two vaccines - Pfizer's requires sub-zero temperatures that the Marshall Islands cannot provide - had the country focused on obtaining Moderna's version.

Niedenthal said the number of vaccines in the first batch were not yet firm, but that it was likely to be 1,000 each, initially for the two urban centres of Majuro and Ebeye.

He said "the priority will be health workers and front-liners, and vulnerable older people."