The CNMI reaching 70% of its eligible population being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is an impressive feat, but in comparison to the initial stages of the rollout of vaccines, in both the U.S. and the CNMI, the vaccination rate has noticeably slowed down. When asked why she thinks this is the case, Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation chief executive officer Esther Muña, said it could be due to the sense of urgency to get vaccinated decreasing as the percentage of the population being fully vaccinated increases.
“On the first days of our vaccination rollout, we were seeing individuals that were waiting and excited for the [scientific] breakthrough with the development of the COVID-19 vaccines. We saw individuals that decided that there was no reason to wait for getting vaccinated and just simply got it,” said Muña.
However, as the CNMI has been making its way toward its goal of having 80% of the eligible population being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, that “feeling of urgency” has started to fade among some members of the community and some have also declined getting vaccinated for various reasons. However, with the rise of cases and deaths in the U.S. due to the delta variant of COVID-19, Muña hopes to see a renewed sense of urgency.
“Our goal is to help them get their protection sooner than later. We want to help them get it sooner because we’re far from the end of the pandemic and the delta variant, which is more contagious and is present in almost every U.S. state, is already killing more people,” said Muña.
As far as other possible motivators for the community to go out and get vaccinated, Muña emphasized that the sooner a large portion of the CNMI is fully vaccinated, the sooner the CNMI could begin returning to pre-pandemic life. “Everyone has their own reasons [to not receive the vaccine]. [But,] there’s the reopening of the schools and businesses getting back to pre-COVID operations. In order to do this safely, vaccinations help,” said Muña.
According to the vaccinatecnmi.com dashboard on Wednesday afternoon, 70.6% of the CNMI’s eligible population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. To reach 80% vaccinated, 3,983 more people need to receive their vaccines.