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Vanuatu Vaccination Update

The Village Explainer
Vanuatu Vaccination Update
By Dan McGarry • Issue #66 • View online
The Village Explainer is a semi-regular newsletter containing analysis and insight focusing on under-reported aspects of Pacific societies, politics and economics.
In this issue, we take a quick look at how Vanuatu’s vaccination campaign is progressing.

Welcome to the Vanuatu VaX Tracker
As with so many things in Vanuatu, our vaccination status could be much better, and it could be far, far worse.
The good news:
  1. Sanma province is leading the nation in vaccinations. Shefa’s nearly month-long head start was reduced to nothing in about two weeks, and although progress has flagged in recent weeks, that’s mostly because many communities have only the most hesitant / resistant people left to vaccinate. That said, West and Northwest Santo remain a logistically daunting challenge.
  2. The arrival of Johnson & Johnson vaccines next year should go a long way to shortening the vaccination in the remotest areas.
  3. Tanna’s experience shows the importance of community leadership in ensuring high vaccination numbers. The areas represented by the PM, the Finance Minister and the Opposition Deputy Leader are all ahead of schedule. This makes it clear that hesitancy isn’t the determining factor in Vanuatu. Leadership is.
Leadership makes all the difference
Leadership makes all the difference
The bad news:
  1. Neither Sanma nor Shefa are on track to achieve their 90% first-dose target by year-end. Both provinces are showing a slow-down in vaccination rates. The easy ones are all done. Gaps in community leadership are creating problems for teams on the ground, who often proceed at a desultory rate, well below their potential.
  2. Still no news from the Penama team. They’ve been at it for nearly three weeks, but we’ve seen no progress reports.
  3. After months of work, the 1->2 shot translation rate remains stubbornly high in Shefa province. A full 10 weeks after the first shot, a steady 8% of recipients still haven’t got their second shot. After 12 weeks, the number is still 7%.
If 7-8% of people never get a second shot, we cannot reach our goal of 90% of adults fully inoculated. Ever.
It’s clear from the data that our health teams need more support. They need more appropriate vaccines for the remotest areas.
They need community leaders to step up and show to the way to their people.
They need money, people and supplies. Right now, it’s everything they can do to keep the teams running. There is no bandwidth left to organise, to recruit, to plan, to address problems, and most importantly, to follow up with people.
We have tens of thousands more vaccines to deliver, and they have to be delivered one shot at a time. Either we’re all in on the win, or we all in trouble.
Either way, we’re in this together.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Dan McGarry

The Village Explainer is a semi-regular newsletter containing analysis and insight focusing on under-reported aspects of Pacific societies, politics and economics.

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Dan McGarry - Port Vila, Vanuatu