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  • By Pacific Island Times News Staff

FSM begins vaccinations for frontline workers; Panuelo targets 100% immunization rate

Government studying the possibility of mandatory vaccination

Palikir, Pohnpei—The Federated States of Micronesia on Monday rolled out the government's Covid-19 vaccination campaign that will continue throughout this week, prioritizing health care personnel and border control employees in Pohnpei.

FSM President David Panuelo said his administration is targeting a 100 percent vaccination rate.

As of Jan. 4, the FSM government has not stated its intention to make the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory. However, both the executive and legislative branches are seeking to determine if a mandatory requirement would be beneficial to the nation and its citizens.

To build public trust and confidence in the vaccine's safety and effectiveness, FSM President David Panuelo led the 10 individuals who received the vaccine during the program's launch on Dec. 31.

“No pain at the injection site—no side effects at all, I feel great and normal,” the president said.

FSM received the first 1,600 doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine on Dec. 28, 2020 and expects another 8,200 doses to arrive on Jan. 9 .

The Office of the President said the government plans to ship the additional vaccines to Kosrae, Chuuk and Yap via Caroline Islands Air and Pacific Mission Aviation, with the state governments shortly following with the vaccine rollout in their jurisdiction. After completing the frontline workers' vaccinations, the senior citizens and individuals with underlying medical conditions will stand next in line -- following the standard recommendation for prioritization from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. There is no live virus in the approved Covid-19 vaccines, and by extension any side effects do not mean that a patient has contracted Covic-19. Some acute side effects have been seen, including injection site soreness and a short-term fever that is gone in under 48 hours.

FSM Immunization Program Manager Carter Apaisam reported that the injection site was painful. “It is a painful injection,” Apaisam said in a statement, “But it’s consistent with other efficacious vaccines, such as the influenza [flu] vaccine.”

After the priority groups, the vaccines will be available to general population.

Although the Covid-19 vaccine provides scientifically measurable and significant protection to individuals who receive it, it is not a “magic bullet,” it is not “literally a cure" and it is not “a replacement for social distancing,” as some citizens have suggested through social media and radio programming.

The national government continues to encourage the public to practice best preventive practices such as handwashing, mask wearing, and physical distancing between individuals, and such measures will become mandatory if and when Covid-19 arrives into the FSM.

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