Kingdom of Tonga receives 54,990 doses of Pfizer vaccines through Australia-UNICEF partnership

22 March 2022

Nuku’alofa, Kingdom of Tonga, 22 March 2022 – Australia has provided 54,990 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to the Kingdom of Tonga today as part of a partnership with UNICEF to support the country’s national vaccine rollout.

This is indeed timely and needed assistance. We have been preparing the cold chain storage and eagerly awaited the vaccines' arrival. We are thankful to the Government of Australia for this timely assistance since the Pfizer vaccines have just finished. Our teams are prepared to deploy the vaccines, so our people are better protected. This is not the first time Australia has helped and we look forward to your continued support in future. Thank you also to UNICEF for its key role in facilitating the logistics and necessary training so that we are ready for deployment,” said Hon. Dr. Saia Piukala, Minister of Health.

The Kingdom of Tonga is currently experiencing their first COVID-19 outbreak, making the arrival of these vaccines all the more important.

“Australia is proud to have supported Tonga’s COVID-19 preparation over the previous two years, which included prepositioning over 2.6 tonnes of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and 50 oxygen concentrators in 2021. The long-standing links between Australia and Tonga have enabled us to work together to respond quickly to Tonga’s priorities since the Hunga Tonga – Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption, tsunami and COVID-19 outbreak. These vaccines are the latest step in Australia’s support, that has included over 16 flights cumulatively carrying more than 360 tonnes of humanitarian, reconstruction, and medical supplies. Since the outbreak, Australia has brought in another five tonnes of PPE, Rapid Antigen Tests, COVID-19 specific medical equipment (including an additional 24 oxygen concentrators), consumables and pharmaceuticals. Through the deployment of HMAS ADELAIDE, SUPPLY and CANBERRA Australia was proud to support the Ministry of Health vaccine teams to provide boosters across the Ha’apai Island Group (including Nomuka, ‘O’ua, Matuku, Pangai, Tungua, Kotu, Fonoifua, Fotuha’a, Mo’unga’one and Ha’afeva). Australia hopes these vaccines will help the people of Tonga return to normalcy, reuniting loved ones and bringing an end to several years of hardship,” said Australia’s High Commissioner to Tonga, Her Excellency, Rachael Moore. 

“UNICEF is pleased that we are able to provide timely support to the strong efforts by the Government and front-line health workers to keep the virus at bay,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Jonathan Veitch. “We thank the Government of Australia for the enduring and strong partnership to ensure communities, especially the most vulnerable and children, are protected from the threats posed by COVID-19.”

These doses of Pfizer vaccines will be used in the Kingdom’s COVID-19 booster programme.  47 per cent of those aged 18 years and above have already received a booster dose. These vaccines will enable the Ministry of Health to continue to expand their booster campaign to comprehensively cover the Kingdom of Tonga, ensuring that everyone can access boosters, including those in the outer islands.

Australia and UNICEF would like to acknowledge the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, through the Ministry of Health, for its vision and leadership in all of its vaccination programmes. This has been vital to the successful introduction and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

Australia, UNICEF, and the Kingdom of Tonga will continue working together to save lives, build strong and resilient health systems and advance economic recovery from COVID-19. 

About the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Australia’s development program:

Australia's development program is an investment in an open, prosperous and resilient Indo-Pacific. Our engagement is helping our neighbours navigate the challenges of a more contested and disrupted world. Our efforts contribute to saving lives, restarting economies, and managing the effects of resurgent poverty and inequality. We are also engaged in global humanitarian and development efforts, and advocate through our multilateral and global partnerships to ensure they are effective. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and at www.dfat.gov.au.

 

For more information, please contact:

Australian High Commission – Nuku’alofa, ahctonga@dfat.gov.au  

Zubnah Khan, UNICEF Pacific, Tel: +679 9988137, zukhan@unicef.org

Media contacts

Zubnah Khan
Communication Officer
UNICEF Pacific
Tel: +679 330 0439 Ext. 175
Tel: 9988137

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/pacificislands/

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