You are here


Tonga lowers COVID vaccination age to 30-year-olds

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Ministry of Health CEO Dr Reynold 'Ofanoa, Minister for Health Hon Dr 'Amelia Tu'ipulotu, and health staff at a press conference, Vaiola Hospital, 17 May 2021.

By Eleanor Gee

With around 5,000 to 6,000 of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine remaining, people aged 30 years and over are now eligible to be vaccinated announced health officials this morning.

Vaccination lead, Sister Tilema Cama, said 2,000 of the remaining vaccines had been shipped to ‘Eua, while the rest are being administered on Tongatapu at the NCD Centre at Vaiola Hospital, and Digicel Square in the Nuku’alofa CBD this week, from 8:00am to 4:00pm.

“Another two mobile teams are delivering vaccines to those who cannot leave their homes....We hope that by the end of the week, the vaccine rollout will be completed,” she said.

To date, 22,363 people have been vaccinated including over 1,000 non-Tongan nationals.

The rollout of the second dose will start in June for people who have been inoculated with the first dose.

No timeline for more COVID-19 vaccines

For the remainder of the population of Tonga, no timeline has been confirmed on when further doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be received in Tonga.

Minister for Health Hon Dr ‘Amelia Tu’ipulotu said we have to wait for confirmation of the 100,000 doses we have requested for the remainder of people waiting to be vaccinated.

“Although other governments have announced COVID-19 vaccine support to Tonga, no government has actually confirmed when they can provide extra doses, including COVAX, due to the limited supply of vaccines for the whole world.”

She said Tonga's safety defense at the moment was to continue closing our borders to international flights and cruise ships.

“We don’t think the border will be opened this year as we are still waiting for the remainder of vaccine doses for the remainder of the population.”

Death of elderly woman

The death of a 93-year-old woman at Vaiola Hospital last week was attributed to underlying health conditions.

The woman was inoculated for COVID-19, along with her family, the day before her death.

Hon Tu’ipulotu said a medical investigation into the cause of death revealed it was due to non-communicable diseases including a heart condition, and the woman had a history of NCD’s and had been in and out of hospital in the past.

Dr Veisinia Matoto-Vaha'i confirmed the elderly woman did not die from a blood clot and she did not die from anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction). She ruled out these causes and clarified that a blood clot takes longer to occur and anaphylaxis occurs minutes after the vaccine.

Dr Matoto said over 800 people who are over the age of 80 years had been vaccinated and “have not had any problems with the vaccine, including those over the age of 90".

She stressed that it is very important that people are vaccinated for COVID-19.

People who are currently eligible for vaccination include those over the age of 30 years, and those over the age of 18 years who have non-communicable diseases, and / or have a disability.