Mass vaccination campaign kicks off

By Soli Wilson 12 August 2021, 11:00AM

The Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) has rolled out a week-long “door to door mass vaccination campaign” against COVID-19 starting on Wednesday.

The mass vaccination campaign for Upolu and Savai'i will run until next Friday 20 July, the M.O.H. advised on Tuesday evening in a public notice.

The Ministry alerted families who have eligible members who required the shot to tie a red cloth/flag in front of their homes for the health teams to identify easily so they can get inoculated. 

“In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic the Ministry of Health will be undertaking a ‘door to door mass vaccination campaign’ starting Wednesday 11th, August 2021 - Friday 20th August 2021 for Upolu and Savai'i,” reads the public notice, which was signed by the M.O.H. Director-General, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri.

“The public is hereby advised to tie a red cloth [or] flag in front of their homes and near the roads to indicate that family members have not been vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine. 

"The red flag/cloth will make it easy for the vaccinating teams to identify households for vaccinations.

“We seek your continuous support in assistance of spreading the message to every household to ensure that the campaign is a success; do it for Samoa.”

Red cloth was spotted on family garden hedges and some electric poles alongside the Faleata road on Wednesday by the Samoa Observer as families awaited the Ministry's vaccination teams to arrive.

Tina Mose of Fagalii Uta said the move by Government is largely welcomed, especially families who do not have vehicles, and often have to find money to pay to travel to the hospital or find a ride with a relative.

The mother said the campaign has come in time for her second shot to be administered, along with three others who were above the age of 18 in her household.

Due for their second shot, individuals are required to visit fixed sites where they can rest for 15 minutes to be monitored for any adverse reactions before leaving. 

The last time Samoa undertook a door-to-door mass vaccination rollout programme it was a two-day nationwide shutdown, in response to the 2019 Measles epidemic outbreak that later claimed 83 deaths mostly children.

This comes after Leausa said last week that there has been some resistance to the COVID-19 vaccine discovered in some villages making vaccination all the more urgent.

Speaking during a press conference last Friday, Leausa said although 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 this year.

He said Samoa does not have to look far to acknowledge that Samoa will not be able to handle an outbreak of COVID-19 and referenced Fiji’s continued battle with the Delta variant outbreak.

“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 the vaccines show that they can guarantee protection 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.

He urged the public to get their vaccinations done, especially the second shot, which guarantees that an individual has a full layer of protection against the virus.

“We continue to look at Fiji with worry,” he said. “Their situation continues to worsen as community cases continue to spread, as the number of deaths also increases due to many other complications; and they are far from completing vaccination.

“Fiji received vaccines before we did, but they were careless and took their time, thinking the virus would not land on their shores.

“And that’s the same concern for us. We see that there is still that spirit amongst our people; there is no sense of urgency, thinking and saying they believe the virus will not arrive in Samoa.

“But I believe that the virus will get here but we don’t know when. What’s most important now is we have this period allowing us to get our vaccinations done so that whatever times the virus does come; our bodies have been prepared to resist it.”


By Soli Wilson 12 August 2021, 11:00AM
Samoa Observer

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