Prime Minister Hon. James Marape became the first person to be vaccinated with AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine today. He was vaccinated as a sign of assurance to healthcare workers whom he is encouraging to be vaccinated.
Mr Marape assured targeted frontline workers that the vaccine was put through various scientific checks at organisations such as European Medicines Agency, Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration, World Health Organisation and the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee (MESAC) and found to be safe.
“Based on evidence that is available to us, this vaccine is available to us to provide some assistance to our natural
immunity,” Mr Marape said. “The vaccine is one way for Papua New Guinea to manage the impacts of COVID-19, but we are not directing anyone to take the vaccine against their will.
“It’s an option available so that citizens can make an informed decision on when to take the vaccine and it is not compulsory.” PM Marape said he had further instructed the National Department of Health to pull together information on all the vaccines available on the market and make it available to the public. This is so that they can make an informed choice of the type of vaccine they want. He said he was aware of differing views about the AstraZeneca vaccine and others on the market.
However, he said he could not ignore the increasing surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, which was already affecting health care workers and putting additional strain on the country’s fragile health systems. “I cannot stand in the way of medical workers who are always in the frontline and are very exposed to the virus. “Of course, there may be side effects, which is why we were slow in getting the vaccination programme started so that we have protocols in place to address any type of reactions to the vaccine.” PM Marape assured health care workers that the vaccine was safe and they did not have to take it if they decided not to. He also appealed to those who were skeptical about the vaccine not to infringe on the rights of others who want to take it.