N.E.O.C. dismisses vaccine death rumour

The National Emergency Operation Centre (N.E.O.C.) has dispelled rumours of the death of a person after receiving a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Ministry of Health Director-General, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, confirmed that, to date, there had been no major complications been reported from the mass vaccination campaign. 

Speaking during a press conference earlier this week with the interim Chairman of N.E.O.C., Agafili Shem Leo, Leausa alluded to the allegation when addressing the fears of some of the public who are afraid to undergo the first step towards inoculation.

Leausa said the rumour claimed that a male who worked at the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (M.P.M.C.) died after receiving his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Health Director-General insisted that this was not true: "He (the patient in question) never got the vaccine. I believe that our country will not be able to survive if we do get infected with the virus. 

“Right now, as our (N.E.O.C.) Chairman has said we have 8,402 people already vaccinated when the booths were closed [on Monday], but still, no major complications or admissions have been reported.

"There were also rumours that a male passed away after getting his vaccine shot; said to be a male who worked in Agafili’s office but he never got a shot. We are sure that he did not receive a dose.

"It seems there is a tendency to race on who makes a claim first on social media ahead of everyone else and then that person gets well known, but they are spreading the wrong information."

As of Thursday, a Ministry of Health update shows that the number of people who have received their vaccinations has topped 10,000.

Leausa and Agafili also pleaded for the population's support in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccinations as neighbouring countries' infection rates start to pick up.

The National Emergency Operations Centre (N.E.O.C.) said rising cases in India, Fiji and Papua New Guinea should put the public on notice about the threat of the virus.

"Last week, we saw the infection rate increase in [Papua New Guinea] and before the last week finished, we saw that Fiji had 51 active cases," said Agafili.

"There is only 1 hour and 50 minutes between us and Fiji and there are about 31 suspected community transmitted cases in Fiji with another four suspected cases they are unsure of.

"This is why we are pleading with the public that this is the time to get your vaccination done.

"It can be said that if the virus arrives before you’ve received your vaccination then it may be too late, that’s why this is the chance for us to get it done, while we are free from the virus, we need everyone’s support.

"There are questions on the safety of the vaccination; there have been 8,402 people who received their first doses as of yesterday (Monday) in Samoa and there have not been any major complications from those who have been vaccinated other than mild reactions."

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