Maldives has begun the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine yesterday, 1st February 2021. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and First Lady Fazna Ahmed were two of the first to receive their first doses of vaccine, among frontliners and other government officials including Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed and Chief of Justice of the Maldives Uz Ahmed Muthasim Adnan.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said that the “COVID-19 Dhifaau” campaign will see inoculation of the entire population within the next six months. The vaccine was administered at a special ceremony held at the Male’ Social Center to launch the COVID-19 vaccinations in Maldives. The Immunization Station in Male’ has been established at the Social Center in the Maafannu ward of the city, where vaccination efforts are currently underway.
During the launching ceremony, President Ibrahim Solih appealed the public’s support for the campaign, he described it 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.
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.
The “Covishield” brand vaccine administered, was developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and had 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.