Kuala Lumpur/Suva, 23 June 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges all adults to get vaccinated in Pacific countries including Fiji as it sets grim national records for COVID-19 infections.
Fiji is struggling to contain the more virulent Delta variant and COVID-19 infections are doubling every 10 days in the country, the second fastest rate in the world, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data.
Most Pacific countries have COVID-19 vaccinations underway, however, misinformation and rumours, often spread via social media, are stoking fear in many communities and undermining efforts to speed up immunisations.
Katie Greenwood, IFRC’s Pacific Head of Delegation, said:
“In the Pacific, it’s a critical time to ramp up vaccinations while dispelling myths and rumours to help people understand the importance of being protected. We know vaccines prevent people from getting sick, help stretched health systems cope and crippled economies get back on track.
“Closing the borders has protected Pacific countries from the worst of the health impacts of COVID-19 but millions of people are suffering terrible social and economic impacts. Many have lost jobs and income while the cost of food and other basics continues to climb.”
Red Cross National Societies across the Pacific are working alongside authorities to help people be vaccinated in urban vaccine centres and in remote communities.
While some countries in the Pacific including Fiji and Marshall Islands have vaccinated around a quarter of their populations with one dose, rates of full vaccination in areas of the South Pacific remain very low. The Solomon Islands and Fiji have fully vaccinated less than 1% of their populations, and Tonga has fully vaccinated 1.3% according to Our World in Data.
“Protecting the whole population with vaccinations is a crucial step to prevent further suffering. The current COVID-19 surge in Fiji, is a serious wake-up call for the Pacific. Accurate and timely information saves lives. We cannot afford to let our guards down.
“Red Cross volunteers have reached more than half a million people across the Pacific with activities to promote improved hygiene and information campaigns on keeping people safe from COVID-19. Each of us will only be safe when everyone is safe,” Ms Greenwood said.
For more information, contact:
Soneel Ram, +679 9983 688
Ellie van Baaren, +64 21 774 831
In Kuala Lumpur:
Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451