Airline staff amongst first to receive COVID-19 vaccine
Solomon Airlines international flight operations were among the first frontline employees in Solomon Islands to receive the COVID-19 vaccination today.
The first 15 staff from the national carrier recieved their vaccinations at Central Field Hospital in Honiara, including Cabin Crew, Ground Services, Engineering, Airport Operations, Pilots and Cargo team members.
Solomon Airlines transported 24,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from Brisbane to Honiara last week.
Solomon Islands became the second country in the Pacific islands to receive supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine via the COVAX Facility, a partnership between CEPI, Gavi, UNICEF and WHO.
Priority Groups to receive the vaccine are being identified by the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services in accordance with the global recommendations.
CEO of Solomon Airlines Mr Brett Gebers said the vaccinations were a vital step in protecting frontline employees and the broader population as the airline does its part to prepare for the eventual reopening of international borders.
“In the last year, we have brought hundreds of citizens home to the Solomon Islands and transported citizens of many other countries back to their nations through a combination of Government approved repatriation, special charter and cargo flights using our Airbus A320 aircraft,” he said.
“Such flights comply fully with the COVID-19 regulations of the relevant countries with all passengers required to wear facemasks in all airports and for the full duration of the flight. “Safety of our passengers and crew is of the utmost importance.
Solomon Airlines crew wear facemasks and gloves for the duration of service and full PPE on high risk services, and catering is also minimal to reduce contact between passengers and crew.
“The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccinations are an added level of protection for them, for all travellers who fly with us, those on the ground who support us, their families and their communities” he said.
Solomon Airlines senior cabin crew member Florence Padabela, a flight crew member of 33 years, said she was reassured to be receiving the vaccine.
“We are extremely careful to follow all recommendations in regards to health and safety, and it is very important to ensure Solomon Islanders who work in frontline jobs, as we do, are vaccinated for the safety of everyone,” she said.
Solomon Airlines Manager Ground Operations, David Pearce, who has resided in Solomon Islands for over 4 years said he was comfortable to receive the vaccination. “As airline employees, whether we fly on board aircraft or not, by the nature of our work we come into contact frequently with many people from other countries and from across the local community. COVID19 is a global problem and together we must all do what we can to find a global solution,” he said.