21 Sep 2021

Crunch time for no jab no job policy fast approaching in Solomon Islands

5:01 pm on 21 September 2021

Public servants in Solomon Islands who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be stood down on half-pay from the 31st of October.

Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare.

Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare. Photo: SIG news service

This was announced by the prime minister Manasseh Sogavare this week and will apply to any employee of the national or provincial governments as well as state owned enterprises.

Mr Sogavare said if by 1 January 2022 they still have not taken up the vaccine their employment will be terminated.

It is the strongest messaging yet to come from the government with so far only 6.4 percent of the eligible population full vaccinated against the virus.

The prime minister said out of the target population of 417,327 they still need 375,595 people to come forward and get their jabs.

"Cabinet has also directed the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the OSC [Covid-19 Oversight Committee] to implement more comprehensive advocacy and awareness programs to address the stated reasons of why people are not taking their vaccination," Manasseh Sogavare said.

Meanwhile the head of the Solomon Islands health ministry said they are literally begging people to come forward and get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Pauline McNeil said the country cannot consider fully reopening its borders until at least 80 percent of the population who are 18 years and older have had both of their jabs.

"We are not even close, not even at 10 percent fully vaccinated population. So 300,000 plus [people need to be vaccinated] yet to get that benchmark of 80 percent," Pauline McNeil said.

McNeil said vaccine roll outs are now underway in all 10 provinces in the country.

"We are literally begging for you to come forward, those of you who have yet to decide. So come forward please," she said.

Solomon Islands has been rolling out the AstraZeneca and Sinopham vaccines and recently announced it would also soon be offering the Pfizer vaccine.

The country is currenly Covid free but it has previously recorded 20 cases of Covid-19 in management isolation and quarantine.

Most of those infected were repatriated citizens and returning residents. So far there have been no active cases of Covid-19 in the community.

In recent months several crew members aboard foreign cargo vessels have tested positive while in Solomon Islands waters but they have not been allowed to disembark.