Family and Maternal Health Health Public Service

QUT-Australia Awards Alumnus Leads Successful COVID-19 Vaccination Roll Out in East New Britain, PNG

By Anna Kakun

I was privileged to attend the Australian Awards short course on Family and Child Health-Planning and Administration in QUT which equipped me with necessary skills and knowledge on how to face real world challenges. This month, East New Britain Province was scheduled to roll out the vaccination program for frontline workers and other essential staff to the four districts in the province. For Kokopo district I was appointed as the team leader for vaccination which was stationed at Butuwin Urban Clinic. The Kokopo district started the vaccination program on the 5th of March and will continue for another 3 weeks. As the team leader I must make sure there are enough manpower, PPEs and other necessities to start off each day. Also, I must make sure there is enough supply of vaccine (Astra Zeneca) for the number of people present each day. I must know the total number of people to vaccinate each day according to the eligibility criteria in place.

For my team this is how we organize ourselves to make sure we are doing the right thing and no one is left out:

We have two staff doing awareness to the people coming in for vaccination, two staff doing screening and registration, two staff administering the vaccine, and two staff doing post-vaccination check for any adverse reaction to the vaccine. We make sure 10 people are registered before an Astra Zeneca vaccine vial is open and administered to avoid any wastage. After administering the vaccine, the recipient is asked to wait for 30 minutes at the post-vaccination area to make sure there is no adverse reaction before he/she goes away.

The great challenge that we face is that majority of the frontline and essential workers are hesitant to come forward due to some misinformation, but we make sure they get the right information so they will make their choice. Despite this challenge, the Kokopo team has managed to vaccinate a total of 1,325 people to this date (31st May) from the government, churches, and private sectors. With the high number of people being vaccinated, and following the new normal protocol, I believe that we will be able to control COVID-19 in the province.

Being the team leader is very challenging but I am very thankful to the program coordinators, doctors, EPI team, pharmacist, health managers and my vaccination team for the great support all through this first phase of the vaccination program.

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