Vaccination count tops 7,000

More than 7,000 residents of Samoa have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) has confirmed.

In an online statement, the M.O.H. stated that a total of 7,159 have been vaccinated against the COVID-19, as of Saturday; 4,092 males and 2,397 females.

Saturday's vaccination figures is a 43 per cent increase from the last update they provided on Thursday of 4,991.

In the last week, the vaccines have been administered in the villages of Vaimauga 1 and Vaimauga 2, namely, Laulii (two booths), Vailele, Fagalii tai, Fagalii uta, Moata'a (2), Tanoalei'a, Vaivase tai and Vaivase uta. There remains a fixed site at the main hospital.

Unsubstantiated reports of the side effects from the vaccine jab had made some people in the villages afraid to undergo the first step towards inoculation.   

The caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi was not surprised by this saying it was the people's same reaction during the measles epidemic.

"Even though the hospital was only 50 yards away from some families, yet they still do not go to get the vaccination because they do not believe in it and are afraid of it," he said during his 2AP programme on Thursday.

"There are people who refuse to be vaccinated or even see the doctor in case the doctor tells them that they may be extremely sick. But it is important to see the doctor often to monitor your blood pressure and the oxygen in the blood along with your sugar level [...]

"This is common with our people, carelessness. There are tablets to limit the high blood pressure and cap their sugar levels, but they keep forgetting, but it is that forgetfulness that may affect you."

Tuilaepa emphasised that the nation is still in a state of emergency, and whatever the National Emergency Operation Centre says must be followed.

While the caretaker of the nation assured that Samoa continues to be COVID-19 free, he said a 100 per cent certainty cannot be guaranteed as there are passengers flying in, hence the need to be vaccinated.

"Right now, the vaccine we are using, we need two doses. Some other countries have different vaccines rolled out. But this has been proven to have worked and it is being rolled out in many other countries," he said.

The officials anticipate that after the first zone is completed, a different team will be assigned to the second zone.   

Earlier this month, a total of 24,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived via plane from New Zealand.  

Samoa is one of 92 countries worldwide to receive COVID-19 vaccines from the World Health Organisation managed COVAX Facility.

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