'Over 70 percent of the population remain unvaccinated': Minister

Health Minister Ahmed Naseem has stated that over 70 percent of Maldivians have not received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had earlier stated that over 69 percent of the population had received the first dose of the vaccine while 35 percent had completed both doses. The president shared the statistic during a press conference held by the President's Office on May 26, during which he lauded the country's successful vaccination campaign.

However, speaking at a press conference held Wednesday following the death of a 10-year old COVID-19 patient, Health Minister Naseem said statistics show 70 percent of the population have not received a single dose of the vaccine, and expressed concern on the matter. He noted that most people who died from COVID-19 in the Maldives had not received any vaccine doses.

"The statistics show that almost 70 percent of people have not received the vaccine, no vaccines of any kind have been administered," said the minister.

Naseem said four teams are active in administering the vaccine. While three ambulances are used for vaccine operations, the campaign is managed by Dhamanaveshi, he added. The minister further noted that some members of the public are holding out on receiving the vaccine as they wish to receive a specific brand of vaccine. However, it is his recommendation that all citizens get whatever vaccine is available at this time, he added.

"When you get the vaccine, you will receive some extent of protection if you're in good health. If you have other underlying issues, some difficulties may be faced. I urge not to pass up this opportunity," the minister said.

According to the latest statistics publicized by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), 310,405 people have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while 168,889 people have completed the second dose. However, the authority has not stated how many locals and foreigners received the vaccine.