Second vaccine batch arrives Friday

The second batch of 28,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine arrives Friday, the Deputy Director-General, Tagaloa Dr. Robertson has confirmed on Thursday.

Speaking during the National Emergency Operation Centre (N.E.O.C.) press conference, Tagaloa said the vaccines arriving Friday leaves some 27,000 more vaccine doses to be received through the COVAX Facility, anticipated to arrive in June. 

The total assistance of 79,000 vaccines through the COVAX facility is expected to cover 20 per cent of the eligible population, Tagaloa added. 

The 79,000 doses are enough to inoculate 39,500 people as the AstraZeneca vaccine must be given in two doses. The administration of the second doses will start on 14 June. 

"This is eight weeks away from the starting day of the vaccine administration on 18 April; this is when those who started our vaccination programme will receive their second dose," said Tagaloa. 

"The roll out of the second dose will be done in the same order as the first, being put out in electoral districts until the whole of Samoa is covered.

"The administration of the vaccine will also depend on the number of vaccines we have on hand from one time to another.

"The biggest challenge faced by the employees rolling out the vaccine is that one vial contains ten doses. The issue with this vial is that once it is opened, its contents must be used within six hours. 

"The AstraZeneca vaccine is treated the same way as the measles vaccine; once it is opened, all ten doses within the single vile must be used within six hours. After those hours the doses have not been used, it goes to waste." 

As of Wednesday, the vaccination count in Samoa has reached over 15,000. 

Tagaloa said many of the fixed sites where the vaccine is being administered from by the Ministry of Health were used as polling sites during last month's general election.  

Currently, there are 19 active sites in Faleata No.1 and No.2 and will move to Faleata No. 3 and No. 4 next week. 

Apart from the sites in the villages, fixed sites remain at the Health Centre in Matagialalua, Samoa Tourism Authority Fale at Eleele Fou and two at Motootua.

Tagaloa advised that more fixed sites were set up on Wednesday: one at the Red Cross Headquarters in Tuanaimato; the Samoa National Provident Fund in Vaitele; and the Ah Liki Warehouse behind Samoa Commercial Bank at Vaitele. 

At the same press conference, interim N.E.O.C. Chairman, Agafili Shem Leo said none of the thousands who received their first dose of the vaccine reported experiencing major complications or getting admitted in the hospital following their inoculation.

"For those who are working in the town area, the Committee urges you to please miss out on your lunch [break] once so you are able to receive your vaccine; this is your contribution to the programme we are trying to roll out, it is everyone's responsibility to keep our country safe from the virus," he said.

Agafili also revealed the chartered and repatriation flights for the next month following the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. These includes four flights in June to send seasonal workers to Australia. 

A repatriation flight that was scheduled to arrive Friday has been postponed to 28 May, he said. 

Charter flights will transport a total of 216 seasonal workers on 3 June, followed by 144 seasonal workers to fly out on 5 June to Victoria, Tasmania; 162 seasonal workers on 15 June to Queensland, and 160 on 18 June to Victoria, Tasmania. 

"For the public's information these are chartered flights and there are negotiations that it will bring in our seasonal workers currently in Australia. "

Meanwhile, repatriation flights scheduled for June 4 and June 25 from New Zealand remain unchanged. 

Agafili also called for patience amongst the Samoan residents and citizens seeking a way home from America, saying the worsening situation in Fiji is making it difficult.

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