NUKU'ALOFA (RNZ Pacific/Pacnews) — Tonga's Covid-19 vaccination program starts this Thursday on the main island, Tongatapu.

 Minister of Health Dr. 'Amelia Tu'ipulotu said frontline workers will be the first to receive their shots at Falemasiva Hall.

The Ministry of Health has held a national campaign on radio and television to inform the public about the vaccine and its roll-out since the first 24,000 doses of the Covid-19 AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines arrived on 31 March.

The ministry expects to vaccinate around 2,200 front-line workers from April 15-17 including health officials, police, defense and those working on our borders, at the airport and ports, at Falemasiva in Havelu.

After the frontliners, the vaccine will roll-out to those most vulnerable to the virus, including the elderly and those suffering from NCDs at villages in Tongatapu, administered by various health teams.

A National Technical Working Group is also working closely with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to support health workers and all stakeholders involved.

The health minister said that Tonga is not new to immunization and the ministry in the past had great success due to communities co-operating.

“We have high capacity because we have delivered up to 1,000 immunizations a day,” she said.

The minister also reiterated that the WHO had approved this vaccine, after its experts ensured its safety and she asked for the public's support and cooperation.

As of Monday, Tonga remained Covid-19-free.

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