With CNMI now nearing 99% vaxxed, what’s next?

Posted on Jan 28 2022

As the CNMI nears 99% of its eligible population being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the focus now is on making sure that those eligible are brought “up to date” with their shots.

Currently, over 18,600 booster shots have been administered so far, and this accounts for an estimated 50% of the CNMI’s 12-and-older population.

This was all learned from Heather Pangelinan, director of Population Health Services at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., who responded to an inquiry by Saipan Tribune yesterday.

Pangelinan first noted that she anticipates the authorization of vaccines for children as young as 6 months. If authorized, this would increase the number of eligible individuals in the CNMI, and thus also decrease the current percentage.

“The percentage may change once we get confirmation on vaccines for younger children. We are anticipating the authorization of vaccines for children as young as 6 months. Adding that population will expand the number of eligible individuals and would reduce the percentage of individuals fully vaccinated,” said Pangelinan.

According to the www.vaccinatecnmi.com dashboard, the CNMI is currently at 98.9% vaccinated.

Separately, according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is currently authorized for use in individuals aged 5 and older.

CDC also outlines on its website what being “fully vaccinated” and being “up to date” with your COVID-19 vaccinations means. The page, last updated on Jan. 16, 2022, defines “fully vaccinated” as a person having received their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines. For those who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, this means the two initial doses. “Up to date” means that a person has “received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible.”

The CDC also says that everyone aged 12 and older should get a booster dose five months after the last dose in their primary series. For individuals between ages 12 to 17, CDC says they should only get Pfizer-BioNTech’s booster shot. Everyone 18 and older can receive Pfizer-BioNTech’s or Moderna’s booster shots.

With many in the CNMI now “fully vaccinated,” the focus now is on getting those eligible in the CNMI “up to date.”

“Our focus for now, since we are close to the 99% fully vaccinated rate, is to ensure that everyone eligible for booster shots are brought up to date with the recommendation for booster doses. …The CHCC will continue to promote and expand access to booster doses for everyone in the CNMI eligible,” said Pangelinan.

Joshua Santos | Reporter
Joshua Santos is a Mount Carmel School AlumKnight and University of Florida Gator Grad with a passion for writing. He is one of Saipan Tribune’s newest reporters. Josh enjoys golf, chess, and playing video games with friends in his spare time. Reach out to him @rarebasedjosh on all socials.
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