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Nuku’alofa – August 10, 2021: 2.05pm (RNZI): Tonga’s Ministry of Health has confirmed a schedule of when Covid-19 vaccines will next become available for the Kingdom.

To start, a consignment of 10,000 doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines is scheduled to arrive tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s doses are funded by the Australian Government thorugh the COVAX facility and will be sent to Ha’apai.

Another batch of Covid-19 vaccines is expected to arrive around mid to late August, funded by Japan.

Ministry of Health CEO Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola says these vaccines will be used to vaccinate people living at Tongatapu, Eua and the Niuas.

More vaccines, including Pfizer doses, funded by New Zealand, are planned for rollout in Tonga at the end of August or towards the last quarter of the year.

Dr ‘Akau’ola said these vaccines will be used to vaccinate anyone else in Tonga who may have missed out in the early vaccination stages.

Pfizer vaccines to be used for pregnant women and youth

Tonga has confirmed that Pfizer vaccine doses sent from New Zealand will be used for the youth aged 12 to 17 years and pregnant women.

The Ministry of Health CEO Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola told local media that if there are pregnant mothers who wished to be vaccinated with AstraZeneca vaccines now, they won’t be turned away.

Tonga’s vulnerability to impacts of Covid-19 infection in terms of non-communicable disease risk factors remains high.

Dr ‘Akau’ola said that combining these two risks, make the risk for an unvaccinated pregnant woman extremely high.

He explained that concluded that the risk of the Delta variant of Covid entering Tonga from Fiji was increasing, and that if an outbreak happened in Tonga, it could be too late to vaccinate pregnant mothers to protect them.

Dr ‘Akau’ola said their only chance was to get vaccinated while Tonga is still Covid-19 free.

He said data on the safety of Covid-19 vaccine to pregnancy was being continuously collected and analysed. Results so far have not shown any significant short term adverse effects.

However, the WHO is advising countries that are choosing to give vaccines to pregnant women, to first consider if the risk of getting Covid-19 is greater than the risk of adverse events from getting the vaccine, which has so far been shown to be extremely low.

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