Middle school student Divine Baxter received her second vaccine dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Hopwood Middle School vaccination site last Friday afternoon, pushing the CNMI to its goal of having at least 80% of its eligible population being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Eligible population means those who are 12 years old and older.
In a statement from the Office of the Governor announcing the milestone, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres praised the work of the COVID-19 Task Force led by its chairman, Warren Villagomez, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. led by chief executive officer Esther Muña, and the CNMI’s doctors, nurses, and first responders.
“The decisions we made were not easy, but they have always been to keep everyone on our islands safe from this deadly disease. To our first responders, thank you. …Your dedication to our goal is why we got here together,” Torres said.
“And to our community, thank you for your patience, for your cooperation, for believing in our administration, and for following the directives and quarantine protocols. We are glad to see our people healthy, and for that, we remain blessed to be living in one of the safest places in the world. The work is not done, and we must keep our guard up to protect each other,” he added.
Torres also recognized the vaccination campaign Road to 80 for its efforts in motivating the community to get vaccinated. The Office of the Governor statement said the government allocated $100,000 to the campaign to encourage everyone in our community to get vaccinated for a chance to win prizes and incentives.
Muña Friday echoed Torres’ sentiments and also spoke on social media of the importance of getting vaccinated for the sake of those unable to receive a vaccine.
“Fully vaccinating 80% of our eligible population is a huge feat. It is a community effort that we should be proud of—protecting ourselves and our loved ones, especially those who are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines. We have been advocating for vaccine administration and we will continue to accelerate our efforts in vaccinating the community,” she said.
She stated in earlier interviews, though, that, even if the CNMI achieves 80%, it will still maintain its current health protocols since the pandemic is not over yet and the spread of COVID-19 variants is still rampant.
The World Health Organization advises continued caution even if the 80% target is reached. According to the WHO website, the medical community is still learning about immunity to COVID-19 and, “until we better understand COVID-19 immunity, it will not be possible to know how much of a population is immune and how long that immunity last for, let alone make future predictions.”
WHO said the percentage of people who need to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity varies with each disease. “For example, herd immunity against measles requires about 95% of a population to be vaccinated. The remaining 5% will be protected by the fact that measles will not spread among those who are vaccinated. For polio, the threshold is about 80%.”