Maldives begins COVID-19 vaccination drive

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih officially inaugurated the Maldives’ COVID-19 vaccination program on Monday morning.

COVID-19 vaccination is ongoing in three regions of the Maldives; capital Male’, southernmost Addu city and Kulhudhuffushi city in the north. Vaccine administration is ongoing at ADK Hospital, Hulhumale’ Hospital, TreeTop Hospital and VilliMale Hospital in Male’ and at Hithadhoo Equatorial Hospital in Addu city as well as Kulhudhuffushi Regional Hospital.

Dr Shiraany Abdul Rahman, Medical Officer of Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), a healthcare professional working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response, was the first to receive the initial dose of the vaccine. Thirty-six individuals, including the President, Speaker of Parliament, Chief Justice, state dignitaries, frontline healthcare staff, and elderly and persons with comorbidities, received their initial dose of the two-dose vaccine on Monday.

Appealing for the public’s support for the campaign, President Solih described vaccination as the way forward to end a long and exhausting ordeal. He stressed that the public's strict adherence and compliance of healthcare professionals' guidelines helped successfully deter the spread of COVID-19 in the Maldives.

The “COVISHIELD” brand vaccine administered on Monday was developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and has the same formula as the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. On January 20, 2021, the Government of India donated a shipment of 100,000 doses of the vaccine to the Maldives.

Earlier last week, the Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA) approved the vaccine for emergency use in the Maldives, and the Government is currently equipped to inoculate 50,000 individuals. Work is ongoing to acquire more vaccines and to increase dosage capacity to cover the whole population. The vaccine rollout programme’s initial phase saw the drive kicked off in Malé, Addu and Kulhudhuffushi cities. It will target at-risk individuals over 50 years of age or have underlying medical issues; health and social workers; and essential frontline staff. Vaccines will not be administered to pregnant women or children under 16 at this time.