Palau has received 200 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine this month and has immediately started the rollout weekend to one of the outlying states.
Last weekend President Surangel Whipps Junior, along with Governor Richard Ngiraked and Palau health officials, accompanied members of the US Health and Human Services (HHS) team on a vaccination trip to Kayangel State.
In doing so, Palau became the first Freely Associated State (FAS) to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
During the visit to Kayangel, 40 residents were vaccinated.
Palau was expected to receive more doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the coming months, together with its monthly allocation of the Moderna vaccine.
Whipps said the single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine was more suited to residents living in remotes states in Palau.
The rollout of the single dose vaccine would continue, with the HHS team expected to travel to other outlying states in Palau.
Dr. Richard Bostrom, who is one of the US health officers in Palau helping the vaccination programme, said by the end of June the country would be at a safe level in terms of inoculation.
Bostrom lauded Palau’s vaccination programme, which was ahead of the US on Covid-19 vaccination statistics.
“Your vaccine numbers were quite high, even though everyone gets the same amount of vaccine in the United States, Palau was still number one.
“What we have seen here when we arrived, is the reason why you are number one. The Minister of Health, the executive branch and all the community are determined and has prioritised this and is remarkably focused to get this vaccine out in a way that it is intended,” Bostrom said during a press conference.
According to the Minister of Health’s Covid-19 Situation Report, as of March 24, 8662 had received their first vaccine dose and 4477 people were fully vaccinated or close to 25 percent of the population.
Palau was also getting ready for a travel bubble with Taiwan which was set to start on 1 April. The bubble would open Palau’s borders to tourists after one year of closure because of the coronavirus pandemic.
While Palau remained Covid-free, its tourism-reliant economy had taken a big hit.
Samuel Whipps was scheduled to leave for Taiwan over the weekend for his first off-island trip since he assumed office in January.