Final world vaccination dose donations arrive

By Soli Wilson 08 August 2021, 5:00PM

A total of 26,400 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX facility, managed by the World Health Organisation in conjunction with international delivery partners, have finally touched down in Samoa two months after their arrival anticipated date, the National Emergency Operation Centre (N.E.O.C.) has confirmed.

Speaking during a N.E.O.C. press conference on Friday, the Ministry of Health Director General, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri said the third and last batch touched down at the Faleolo Airport on Thursday.

“This is our last supply from the COVAX Facility; this is the third batch,” he said.

“Before that, 30,000 doses arrived from Australia and I know another 30,000 is expected to arrive at a later date.”

Leausa also said the 110,000 doses from the Japanese Government is expected to arrive in two weeks.

Exactly a month ago, the mass vaccination rollout was put on hold as the nation’s vaccine supply ran out, due to the late delivery of the doses from the COVAX Facility which was initially expected to arrive early June.

Fortunately, Australia stepped in with 10,000 AstraZeneca doses in time to resume it the following week and it hasn’t had any difficulties in supplies again since.

The Ministry of Health is now facing the challenge of ensuring everyone eligible for inoculation received their two shots within the vaccines’ useful life, mostly estimated to end in October.

“If we put all our vaccine doses together, we get about 300,000 in total, and this is more than the number of the eligible population of our country,” he said.

“We need to get vaccinations completed as soon as possible because the hard thing about this is they come with expiry dates.

“For example, the doses from Australia, many will expire in October. Failing to use it before then will be a waste of these nations’ assistance to us.”

Leausa also provided an update on New Zealand’s offer to donate doses of Pfizer–BioNTech that would allow more people to be safely vaccinated against COVID-19.  

The Health Chief previously revealed that they are looking at the possibility of vaccinating children starting from 12-years-old and breastfeeding mothers who have been breastfeeding for six months and over.

Currently, vaccination, using the Oxford-AztraZeneca vaccine, is allowed for only those 18 years and over and excludes pregnant mothers and all breastfeeding mothers amongst other criteria.”

Leausa urged residents to get their vaccinations as soon as possible, while Samoa still has time, as a COVID-19 free nation.

“Once the virus arrives, no one will be safe and have peace of mind,” he said.

“Looking back to the 1918 influenza epidemic; many of our people died without help. They did not know what to do; there were no prevention warnings on the symptoms, they suddenly got sick and did not have protection.

“But now we do; we continue to share information with our people and we now have a form of protection, vaccination.

“We now have a choice, we know what to do; and failing to do so is forfeiting the love of God that is allowing us time to do what must be done.”

All district hospitals around Samoa are active vaccination sites, Leausa added.

“Not only a team of four who are in the hospital, but also teams who are dispatched in teams of twos or threes who go to families who are further inland and cannot make it to the hospitals,” he said.

“We request the collaboration of the villages’ women Committees and Government representatives in villages with the medical teams in carrying out the vaccination programme.”

He said whilst vaccination rates are growing, Samoa still has a long way to go, but some people’s resistance towards the vaccine can dangerously slow down the nation’s progress to reach its 99 per cent target by October.

“We have noticed from last week and the end of this week, there are so many people who are being approached by our mobility teams – because not only do we have sites at the district hospitals, mobile teams are dispatched to help reach families farther inland – and there are families there that we couldn’t tell if they were pretending or not,” he said.

“They told the teams that they have already been vaccinated, but they said they have lost them when we asked for their vaccination cards, and they refuse to be vaccinated.

“Some claim they have been vaccinated and at the end tell us they will not be vaccinated.

“Such actions can slow down our progress into protecting Samoa.”

Leausa said extensive studies into vaccines show that they can guarantee protection upon the nation from the virus. He also clarified that the vaccine does not make the individual immune, but it does protect them from the severe implications of the highly contagious disease unless other underlying conditions cause complications.

 * This story has been updated to correct the organisational management of the COVAX Facility.


By Soli Wilson 08 August 2021, 5:00PM
Samoa Observer

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