Turtle Island and other tourism operators in our region have stepped up to support health teams carry out vaccination programs within the Yasawa Islands.

Ms. Lavenia Naivalu, the Nacula Tikina spokesperson and first female district officer for the region, said the Covid-19 Vaccination Awareness group was fully funded by Turtle Island Resort. With other tourism operators providing financial support to the vaccination drive that followed.

“We are very grateful to Mr. Richard Evanson Jr for accepting our invitation to join this campaign and offering financial support for the team to move around to all of our communities within the district of Nacula,” she said.

Ms. Naivalu said there was a lot of vaccine hesitancy from community members. The Covid-19 Vaccine Awareness campaign was initiated to address any concerns or misconceptions the community had in relation to the vaccine.

A Nacula village resident and member of the Covid-19 registration team, Ms. Lani Leivalu, said “We are thankful to Richard Jr. for the powerful presentation he made at each of the 7 villages and 1 settlement. This was crucial in answering the questions that were hanging with the community members in the villages. People were running back to their homes to get their documents in order to be registered…I can confirm that the people of the Nacula tikina are ready to be vaccinated.”

Administration of the first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to the Nacula Tikina and Yasawa Islands began on Monday 26 July. The turnout has been positive as a result of the vaccine awareness campaign.

Richard Evanson Jr, said “We experienced vaccine hesitancy amongst a large number of our team, in digging through these concerns, we were able to uncover an enormous amount of misinformation. It was concerning to see many basing important health decisions on misinformation, as such we spent much time researching and learning about this, and then addressing it with our team. As a result of this, we were able to achieve a 100% vaccination rate. When I heard that there was also widespread vaccine hesitancy in our community due to the same misleading information, I felt it was our responsibility to share what we had learned with our community, in the hope that it may help them make a more informed decision – that could potentially save their lives.”

The awareness campaign ran over 3 days, with the awareness team visiting 7 Villages and 1 settlement.

Given the success of this initiative, Turtle Island has been kindly asked to join the next campaign which will visit the 6 villages in the northern part of the Yasawas, prior to the vaccine roll out in the same area.