Am. Samoa to decide on COVID-19 vaccines

The American Samoa government is weighing its options on whether to sign up for the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for its residents.

The Department of Health Epidemiologist Dr. John Tufa told Talanei News that logistics for the Pfizer vaccines are very tight.

“Shelf life is only up to 20 days and it requires storage at -80 degrees Fahrenheit. The Pfizer vaccines are expected to be distributed from the US sometime next month,” he said.

The Moderna vaccine will not be released until early next year with Dr Tufa explaining that this vaccine requires only a -20 degrees Fahrenheit storage with a shelf life of up to 4 months.

The territory government’s COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Task Force may opt for both vaccines, according to Dr Tufa. 

“And it's likely that the Pfizer vaccine would be used for first responders and healthcare workers first and wait for the Moderna vaccine for the general public. This is all at the preliminary discussion stage and the plans should be crystallized by next week.”

Last Friday the territory’s retiring Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga had a conference call with Operations Warp Speed – which is a partnership among sections of the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense – on engaging with private firms and other federal agencies to coordinate among existing H.H.S. efforts to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Times newspaper has reported that the two COVID-19 shots from Pfizer or Moderna (in partnership with BioNTech) have gone from nonexistent to about 95 per cent effectiveness in 10 months.

“Public-health officials and governments now have the dual challenge of convincing the public that the vaccines are both safe and scientifically sound, as well as figuring out how to distribute billions of doses.”

Also the U.S. government’s Food and Drug Administration [F.D.A.] must approve any new vaccine.

The announcement of the vaccine and the developments in Pago Pago comes three weeks after a container ship Fesco Askold, which made a 22-hour stopover in Apia, went to American Samoa and had three of its crew members test positive to the COVID-19.

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