Vaccination count nears 11,000

The number of people to receive their first COVID-19 vaccination dose has picked up in the second week of the nation-wide mass vaccination campaign, with the total of vaccinated Samoans reaching 10,900.

As of 11 pm, Thursday a total of 6,218 males and 4,693 females had received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, showing that Samoa is on track to using the first batch of the vaccine within its shelf life, which expires at month’s end. 

Thursday's vaccination count is just over an 8 per cent increase from Wednesday's total number of 10,070 and an 18 per cent growth from Tuesday's figure.

Interim chair of the National Emergency Operations Centre, Agafili Shem Leo, and Director-General of the Minister of Health Leausa Dr. Take Naseri in a press conference earlier this week encouraged the public to get their vaccinations as neighbouring islands in the region start to lose control over local outbreaks of the virus.

The country started with 24,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with a shelf life until the end of May. (The vaccine requires a second shot to be administered later to be effective). 

To get through the rest of the vaccines at their best, Samoa needs to vaccinate 15,600 people in just under four weeks, around 600 people a day. 

But Leausa told the media on Tuesday he expects that to happen in just a week, saying he expects a further 15,000 people to be vaccinated this week. 

For the past week, vaccinations have been administered in the Vaimauga No. 3 and No. 4 constituencies, including Maagiagi, Vini-fou, Matautu tai, Matautu uta, Tanugamanono, Papauta, Vailima, Vaoala, Malololelei, Apia, A'ai o Niue, Mulinuu and Fugalei.

Booths are open from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 8 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm.

Leausa said as Samoa has tried very hard to keep the virus at bay through rigorous screening processes at the border, it is imperative to vaccinate the population now in case the virus slips through.

"Our last line of defence is vaccinating against the COVID-19 virus, and this is why we are pleading to the public that if we do not have 98 to 100 per cent vaccinated of those eligible to receive it, it will be very hard for us to fight the virus and also make it harder for us to open our borders to the world," said Leausa.

"Fortunately for us, we are still able to mobilise within our country like going to church, we opened up restrictions to allow for it, but that will change again once the virus arrives in the country because the virus tends to spread quickly where there are large crowds.

"But this is the most important time we are in, our last resort right now is to get our vaccination doses, and then we will be free from this extreme disease in this day and age in the world."

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