Tonga’s Princess Pilolevu Tuita was the first person to receive her first dose of the Covid-19 AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, followed by frontline workers on Tongatapu.

The Princess volunteered to take part along with her husband Lord Tuita and Prime Minister Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa.

Acting CEO for Health Dr Reynold ‘Ofanoa also received his first shot.

“This is a historical day for Tonga, a day we had prayed for, a day of hope, as we launch the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine,” ‘Ofanoa said.

“We are truly humbled that HRH is to be first to be vaccinated, a support that is monumental.”

Today, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 136 million people contracted Covid-19 with 2.9 million lives lost world-wide, he said.

Tonga was fortunate to remain Covid-19 free, ‘Ofanoa said.

That had been achieved through cooperation during unprecedented times, which had strengthened relationships between the prime minister and other countries, church leaders, NGOs, relevant stakeholders and our people, he said.

Be prepared

“It is imperative that we prepare for a time should the pandemic appear on our shores. This Covid-19 vaccine rollout is a key milestone in protecting our people from the virus,” ‘Ofanoa said.

Tonga’s first 24,000 doses of the vaccine, which arrived on 31 March, were secured from the Covax facility, after negotiations led by the Minister of Health.

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