COVID vaccination to be free for locals and work permit holders: HEOC

Health Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC)’s spokesperson, Dr. Nazla Rafeeq - HEOC

Male’, Maldives – The Health Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC) has revealed that the vaccination programme in Maldives would be freely accessible for both Maldivians and work permit holders, as per the prioritisation guideline publicised earlier.

Spokesperson of HEOC Dr Nazla Rafeeq stated that vaccination was tentatively expected to commence within the first quarter of 2021. She went on to reveal that several institutions would be involved in the process of overseeing the vaccination effort, including the National COVID Vaccine Steering Committee, Maldives Technical Advisory Group on Immunization, National Immunization Program, National Multi-stakeholder Coordination Group and the Committee Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) as well as working groups on logistics, data management and communications.

Dr Nazla also reiterated that efforts to prepare for the administration of COVID-19 vaccines are proceeding swiftly as per a globally accredited framework. Earlier in December, the COVAX facility accepted Maldives’ application to secure vaccines for 20 percent of the country’s population.

Co-led by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), COVAX aims to ensure rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. The facility has a target to procure and deliver two billion doses of approved vaccines by the end of 2021. This is intended to cover 20 percent of the populations of each participating country.

Maldives was listed among the 92 low and middle income countries eligible to access COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC). While vaccines from COVAX AMC are intended to cover 20 percent of the population, vaccine allocations for frontline health professionals and social workers would amount to three percent. The remaining 17 percent will be allocated for individuals at a high risk of developing complications such as people aged 50 and above.

At present, Maldives records a total of 13,558 virus cases of which 492 are active cases, in addition to 13,011 recoveries and 48 deaths. Though the number of daily positive cases are gradually decreasing, health officials continue to urge the public to adhere to the safety guidelines for the protection of everyone.