Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.
Fiji is the safest it has been since April — thanks to our exceptional effort to vaccinate our adult population.

As of today, 66 percent of all adults in the country are fully vaccinated and 98 percent have received their first dose.

We kept a careful eye on the early vaccine rollouts in more advanced countries, and learned quickly that when misinformation was allowed to fester, preventable death soon followed. We would not allow to happen –– not on our watch, not in Fiji.  We took decisive measures to get people protected quickly through vaccine requirements for the workplace and to access unemployment benefits –– and it worked.

We are saving lives. We are moving forward. We have surpassed the rate of vaccination in most higher income countries, and are well on our way to achieving a 100% vaccination rate of the adults in Fiji.

Until every Fijian that is eligible is vaccinated, our teams of nurses and doctors will continue to make sure that the vaccines reach every corner of our islands.

Thanks to our successful vaccine rollout, life is now gradually becoming more familiar to all of us.

After the containment area borders were lifted, I was deeply moved, as were countless others, by the images we saw across Viti Levu of friends and family reuniting after five long months apart for the sake of our COVID containment effort.  Now, we can focus on providing the same level of protection against the COVID-19 disease for our children, because Fiji will not be Fiji until our children are back in school where they ought to be.

I’d like to thank all children and parents who have done all they can to keep up with their schoolwork through online classes or work sheets that were provided by the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts.

I thank the teachers who have trekked for miles to get work sheets to their students in support of my Government’s efforts to ensure that no child is left behind. It has been wonderful to see the efforts of parents continuing to engage their children in extra-curricular activities – teaching life skills like home gardening, cooking, home maintenance activities. Thank you for stepping up to be the heroes our children need.

This morning, I am very pleased to launch the school’s vaccination program and the rollout of the Moderna vaccine for children aged 15 to 17 years.

Through a collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, and the Ministry of Communications, this vaccination program will add a powerful layer of protection for our children against COVID-19 to support their return to their school so we can get Fiji’s education revolution back underway.

The Moderna vaccine is being administered first to 15 to 17-year olds who are nearing the end of their secondary education and who need to sit for their external exams to progress onto tertiary education.

I would like to thank the Government of the United States of America for making the Moderna vaccine available to us. The Pfizer vaccine will be rolled out later for children who are 12 to 14 years old, and I thank the New Zealand Government for their support in helping us access these vital vaccines for our children.

After completing all of the necessary clinical trials for safety and efficacy for children, hundreds of thousands of young people around the world have already received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Adding to that total, we have four (4) students here with us this morning, Mohammed Taireem-of Bhawani Dayal Arya College, Litia Golea Volavola of Gospel High School, Saula Muriwaqa of Queen Victoria School and Kristal Tasha Calo-oy of Yat Sen Secondary School who have been given consent by their parents to receive the first jabs of the Moderna vaccine.

I want to thank these patriotic young people and their parents for their commitment to protect themselves and others. You should be very proud of yourselves today, and we are all certainly proud of you. Well done!

I encourage all parents of children within the vaccination age group to get your children vaccinated and join Mohammed, Litia, Saula, and Kristal. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has information that can assist you in making this important decision for your children. We have teams of doctors, medical researches and health care professionals that can answer any questions you may have. We are using a vaccine that has been used in many parts of the world, providing necessary protection against this terrible virus.

As parents and guardians, you will be asked to register your consent for your children to receive this vaccine.

We encourage you to do so online through the Vaccine Registry portal that is posted on the Fijian Government and Ministry of Health Facebook pages. Registration is very simple.  It requires the Birth Registration Number, Citizenship Certificate Number or Permit Number from both the parent or guardian, and the child, entered alongside correlating dates of birth.

By consenting to your children getting vaccinated, you are consenting to their being protected against a deadly disease, and you are consenting to helping stop community transmission.

Our children will join thousands of other children of the same age group who are also receiving the Moderna vaccine in the United Kingdom, the United States, across the European Union, and in Australia. As well as the Pfizer vaccine, which is being administered to children in New Zealand.

If you are a parent, you as well should make sure you are fully vaccinated. My Government, with the support of our donors are to make sure that we have enough vaccines in the country to vaccinate every eligible Fijian. So, make use of this opportunity and take yourselves and your loved ones to the nearest vaccination site.

The Fijian Government and Ministry of Health Facebook pages are updated daily with information on the Moderna vaccine and the roll-out program and I encourage you all to take the time to learn more about the benefits of this vaccine for your children. Information will also be made available across the air waves on radio and in the newspapers to help you make an informed decision.

Before I sign off for today, I would like to remind everyone how fortunate we are to have vaccines available in our country. There are many countries in the world that have low vaccination rates not because people don’t want to be vaccinated, but because vaccines are not available to them.

So, I encourage all Fijians to seize this opportunity. Do not waste these precious doses.

Fully-vaccinated Fijians below the age of 18 will also have the chance to enter a category of their own under the Win Together Sweepstakes –– keep an eye for details on that soon. Of course, parent and guardian consent will be required. Don’t forget, the next draw for the adult category of our Win Together Vaccine Sweepstakes is this Fiji Day, 10 October, where ten (10) winners will receive 5,100 Dollars each for taking the time to become fully vaccinated.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you. God Bless you all.

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