PALIKIR, Pohnpei—The Honorable Marcus Samo, Secretary of the Department of Health & Social Affairs, has provided a statement to the citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), encouraging all persons to become vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to the opening of the Nation’s borders on August 1st, 2022. The Secretary’s statement is below in full, and can also be viewed at: https://www.facebook.com/piofsm/videos/544365340735913/
Kaselehlie, Ran annim, Mogethin and Lenwo!
About two years ago, the world experienced an unprecedented time with the COVID-19 that took many lives, overstretched the capacity of the world’s healthcare system, caused all types of inconveniences, and restricted movement.
For us in the FSM, we closed our borders and focused our attention on doing what we need to do at home to prevent the virus from coming to our shore.
We’ve done a great job in keeping the virus away, with huge sacrifices. Because of all these sacrifices, we have been able to prevent the COVID-19 from freely entering and spreading in our communities. When we repatriated our stranded citizens, residents or essential workers, we occasionally saw some COVID-19 cases. These were border cases that one would expect, especially during this time that the pandemic has gone through its 2 and ½ years. The good news is we’re able to bring in our stranded people and contain these cases.
Today, the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer what it was two years ago. Yes, we’re still not “out of the woods yet”, and we should not be complacent. We will see cases, but we are more prepared now and have more tools to fight this virus. We have very effective and safe vaccines, more than enough for everyone in this nation. We have the latest anti-viral drugs that are also effective to prevent you from developing serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19. We have put in place ventilators and other medical support systems. Many of our healthcare workers have been trained.
As for vaccination coverage, we have vaccinated essentially all vulnerable people in our communities (100% for 45-years old and up). For the 5-years old and up, we have vaccinated 72% of the entire eligible population. This is a huge achievement, and we could not achieve this without the hard work of our healthcare workers in this nation, the support from the traditional and church leaders, and the funding support from our partners. We will continue to provide the vaccines as needed.
Similarly, we have received some very effective medicines to treat the COVID-19. Anti-viral tablets (Paxlovid) have been shown to reduce the likelihood of serious disease or hospitalization due to COVID-19. In recent days, with the few cases in quarantine, our health workers have used these anti-virals and they are effective. Every case of COVID-19 in our quarantine site has recovered. If people seek care early at Test-to-Treat Centers, this gives us assurance that we can move from being COVID-free to [being] COVID-safe.
We cannot forever close our borders. We must open our borders for our young and developing nation to prosper. We are ready to deal with COVID-19 when it enters our shores. We have high vaccine coverage, especially for our most-at-risk population. We have a stockpile of COVID medication and other treatments that we never had before the Pandemic. We have shown in previous outbreaks we can rapidly mount large and effective public health responses such as mass vaccination campaigns and, in the coming days, setting up test-to-treat centers.
For the remaining time left before we open up our borders on August 1, 2022, I appeal to those who have not been vaccinated – please get vaccinated. Those who have been vaccinated, thank you!–and please get boosted. NOW is the time. The vaccine and treatment we have are our way out of this COVID-19 pandemic. As a nation, we must learn to live with this virus because it’s going to be with us for a while as shown from previous outbreaks of this size. We are more prepared now than before, and we need not fear it entering FSM. Together, we can make COVID-19 a thing of the past here at home!