16 years and older to be vaccinated on Tinian and Rota

Posted on Apr 12 2021

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. is working on getting the COVID-19 vaccine to those who are 16 years old and older among Tinian and Rota residents to speed up the vaccination process as a means for the CNMI to gain herd immunity.

Speaking at a media briefing last Friday, CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña says 44% of the CNMI’s adult population has been vaccinated, with 32% being fully vaccinated, and 60% of the CNMI’s elderly population—65 years and older—already vaccinated.

Muña says herd immunity is now possible. “It looks like we’re getting there. …We’re talking about mid-June,” said Muña. Herd immunity is when an enough number of the population is vaccinated against a disease, providing a form of protection for those who are unvaccinated.

Muña confirmed that those who are 16 years and older on Tinian and Rota will be vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

This is a change of vaccine for the two islands. Muña said in previous interviews that Rota and Tinian vaccinations will use the Moderna Inc. vaccine because it can be readily transported using conventional storage equipment, unlike the Pfizer vaccine that requires special equipment for ultra-cold storage. That was also the reason why Tinian and Rota could only vaccinate those who are 18 years old and older because CHCC could only ship out the Moderna vaccine, which was only for those who are 18 and above.

With the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine being shipped out to both islands, this will allow CHCC to lower its vaccination ages on Tinian and Rota to those who are 16 years and older.

In a related story, CHCC vaccinated 80 people on Tinian last April 10, including 39 U.S. Navy Seabees who are on the island for infrastructure improvement projects, according to CHCC’s Facebook page.

To date, Rota has vaccinated 944 of its population, with 735 completing the vaccination process. Tinian has vaccinated 953 of its population with 658 completing the vaccination process.

Community-based testing
According to CHCC’s Facebook page, free community-based testing for COVID-19 will be available on April 14 from 1pm to 4pm at the Kanoa Resort in Susupe.

CHCC says this testing is not recommended for travel, and for those who want to get tested can register at vaccinecnmi.com/covidtesting.

According to Warren Villagomez, chairman of the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force, active coordination with the SolGent Co. team is still in place. Villagomez said three SolGent scientists from Korea will be coming on island on April 21. SolGent Co. is the Korean company that provides the CNMI its testing kits.

Villagomez added that the scientists will help with the the CBT. He also confirmed that there is a mobile laboratory on island, which would provide testing capability for the technicians and scientist from Korea.

“Our mobile laboratory is on island, and we are working on the details for placement of the mobile laboratory, and that would be providing the capability for our technicians, our scientists from Korea. …Everything is going as planned,” said Villagomez.

According to Muña, those who are traveling into the CNMI and who are fully vaccinated are still getting tested for COVID-19. “Even if you’re fully vaccinated, you do have a chance of being positive. The significant impact on someone’s health is basically reduced with the vaccination,” said Muña.

Justine Nauta | Correspondent
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.
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