Fiji’s COVID19 victims had not had their first jab: Dr Rachel

Fiji’s four COVID-19 victims had not had their first injection when they succumbed to the illness.

During a panel discussion organised by the Fiji National University today, Fiji’s Head of Vaccination taskforce Dr Rachel Devi who was part of a 3-member panel said all four deceased also had pre-existing conditions or co-morbid issues that made them most vulnerable to the virus.

“None of them had been jabbed to have that level of protection,” Dr Rachel said.

The deaths and related findings, including Fiji’s high NCD rates, she says have guided Fiji’s vaccination deployment and fuelled the push to get people with co-morbid issues among the priority groups to receive the vaccination.

“Vaccination is not mandatory, but we are encouraging it because of obvious reasons such as reduction in hospitalisation, severe disease and obviously ultimately deaths. And in this current pandemic in Fiji with cases increasing, we need our population protected thus we encourage individuals to get this protection,” Dr Rachel said.

“NCD crisis is high in Fiji, one of the highest in the world. Because of that, the vulnerability of our Fijians increases, and that is one of the reasons that we have been saying from the very beginning, that apart from front liners, get all elderly, those individuals with diabetes, hypertension, cardiac issues,  etc,to get the jab and get it earlier on so they are protected.

“So what we’re doing now is we are trying to vaccinate and encouraging everyone that’s 18 above to get the jab. So that’s the current targets. That’s the current rollout plans we’re doing we’re not stopping anybody from getting vaccinated now that is eligible in Fiji.”

Fiji’s first two deaths were recorded in 2020, both border quarantine cases, who died almost a month apart. The first was a 66-year-old man who had returned from medical treatment overseas on 1 July. He died on 31 July. Not long after, on 25 August, Fiji recorded its second death, in a 61-year-old who had returned on a repatriation flight on 6 August from California.

The country’s recent deaths, and both in the current outbreak, happening a week apart, and both with local links, involved a 53-year-old man who died on 5 May at the Lautoka Hospital. He was admitted to the hospital for surgical procedures which was successful, but tested positive later and died. The most recent death and Fiji’s fourth victim was a woman from Makoi who presented to a nearby facility with symptoms and reportedly died on 13 May.

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