Samoa, American Samoa roll out vaccine program

While Samoa started to roll out its Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine this week, for neighboring island American Samoa, more than half of  the population who are eligible have completed their two-shot regimen. 

This was announced by the American Samoa Government in a press statement. 

“This is one of the good news announced at the meeting of the Task Force that was held yesterday at the Department of Homeland Security Emergency Operations Center (E.O.C).  

“The Department of Health (D.O.H.)– the government entity spearheading the territory’s vaccination efforts – hopes to vaccinate most if not all of the American Samoa’s eligible population of 33,206. These are individuals who are ages 16 and up who are eligible to get vaccinated.

"As of April 20th, D.O.H. data shows that 19,977 or 60.2 per cent of the eligible population has received at least one shot for either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Of that number, 16,696 or 50.3 per cent have completed their two-shot vaccinations.”

American Samoa recorded its first COVID-19 case this week. 

On Sunday, caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi was the first person to receive a Covid-19 vaccination jab, together with Minister of Health Faimalotoa Kika Stowers, to launch the national vaccination program. 

“Frontliners” and “essential service workers” are receiving their first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine this week. 

“This week is reserved especially for our frontliners and those who work in essential services. It includes the police, workers at the Samoa Water Authority (S.W.A.) and those with the Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.),” said Ministry of Health Director General Leausa Dr Take Naseri.

“The workers at the airport and wharves have already been vaccinated. But next week, we are going to start vaccinations for the frontliners in Savai’i. Maybe on Wednesday or Thursday, the team will travel to Savai’i to begin vaccinations for our frontliners.” 

According to the American Samoa Government statement, the older age groups, those at high risk for severe illness with COVID-19, are leading the vaccination numbers. A total of 66.1 per cent of the 41-50 age group; 65 per cent of the 51-60 group; and 66.2 per cent of those ages 61 and older – have completed both shots.

“The percentage for those fully vaccinated in other age groups are: 49.8 per cent for the 31-40 year olds; 31.6 per cent of the 16-20 year olds; and 29.6 per cent of the 21-30 age group.  

“And while American Samoa was buzzing with various activities leading up to the Flag Day weekend, D.O.H. with the support of LBJ Hospital and the VA Clinic were just as busy getting people vaccinated. 

"The D.O.H. data presented at the Task Force meeting, a total of 1,392 people got their COVID shots between April 12th and the 16th. Most of them were for people receiving their first shot. 

"Of those vaccinated last week, 324 were employees of Starkist Samoa where a vaccination outreach was held on April 13th and 63 were workers of Paramount Builders who got vaccinated on April 16th, 235 people living in Manu’a also got a COVID vaccination during a DOH outreach to the island last week.”

Samoa’s vaccination program is also going to Savai’i. Individuals who receive the first dose receive an appointment slip to receive the second dose.

“This is the path we will take and it will be based on the number of doses we have. We have received 24,000 doses and maybe in the middle of May we will receive 50,000 vaccinations so we can cover Upolu and move to Savai’i,” Leausa said.

“That is what we are looking at. When more doses arrive, we want to cover Upolu and Savai’i. In Savai’i, we will want to start in the area of Faasaleleaga where there is a high population. From Faasaleleaga, we want to cover all of Savai’i.”

The Ministry of Women Social Community Development (W.S.C.D.) is assisting with vaccinations, he added.

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