Frontliners in Savai’i up for vaccinations

Frontline workers in Savai’i – Police officers, employees of the Samoa Water Authority (S.W.A.), Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.) and other essential service workers - can expect COVID-19 vaccinations from next week.

The Savai’i vaccination rollout was announced by the Director-General of the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.), Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon at the meeting room of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet (M.P.M.C.).

Nation-wide vaccinations kicked off on Sunday with the Caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi receiving the very first dose. Minister of Health Faimalotoa Kika Stowers received the vaccination on Sunday as well to launch the vaccination program with Tuilaepa.

“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. and those with the Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.),” said Leausa.

“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.”

Mobile vaccinations for the public will begin in the Apia urban area, then the Vaimauga area to Lauli’i and out to Toamua, Afega and Leauva’a.

In Savai’i’ public vaccinations will begin in Faasaleleaga.

The vaccination roll-out will go for about eight weeks.

On the eighth week, the second dose for each person who received the first dose will begin.

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 some 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.

Chief Executive Officers (C.E.O.s) from Government ministries will help by supervising the mobile vaccinations.

“It is similar to the way we conducted the measles vaccinations,” Leausa said.

“They will help us with the vaccinations…it’s not easy…the vaccinations will probably be conducted for eight weeks. On the eighth week, we will start to administer the second doses.”

He notes that not everyone will receive the vaccine.

The vaccine is only for those aged 18 and older.

Women who are pregnant or nursing should not be vaccinated, Leausa said.

Individuals with existing health conditions, such as cancer, are also advised not to receive the AstraZeneca vaccination.

Elderly citizens above the age of 85 can choose whether to get vaccinated or not.

“Our advice is: do not get the injection,” Leausa said.

“Some 85-year-olds are strong but some are [confined to a bed]. We are not going to make them get the vaccine.”

New arrivals who were vaccinated overseas will not need to receive the vaccine during the current roll-out, he said.

“There is no reason for them to get poked again,” said Leausa.

As of Monday, more than 100 people received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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