Children next in line for vaccines
Some 35,000 to 40,000 children aged between 12 to 17 who are eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be the focus of the next stage of the national vaccine drive, health authorities have confirmed.
The Ministry of Health’s (M.O.H.) Deputy-Director General of Public Health, Tagaloa Dr. Robert Thomsen, said last week that the Ministry was planning an expansion of the mass vaccination programme, which had previously been focused solely on those aged 18 and over.
The Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa revealed last month that New Zealand will be able to provide doses of the Pfizer brand COVID-19 vaccine to immunise younger Samoans from October onwards.
Tagaloa said that all the vaccines that the Ministry currently has in its possession will expire by November 30, “and we should be able to use up all these vaccines before that.”
He added that the total amount of vaccines currently in the country has the capacity to vaccinate everyone in the country.
“And even if we have vaccinated everyone in the country there will be a surplus of vaccines,” he said during a Samoa Maloloina programme.
While speaking on the topic of COVID-19 vaccination, he said that it is the aim of the Health Ministry and Government to utilise all the assistance that have been given.
“This is why we have closed the administration of the first dose as of September 24 because by November 30 we would have reached eight weeks for the second dose," Tagaloa said.
“Another reason why we have chosen the 24 September for the last day of the first dose is because our vaccination teams need a rest.
“It has been six months starting from April since the teams have been administering vaccinations in the villages.”
The Deputy-Director General of Public Health said that the vaccination teams need to rest:
“It is because we also have other plans for upcoming vaccinations that will be done in October and November but more time has been spent on the COVID-19 vaccines.
“It is time to prepare for other vaccinations such as the [ongoing] typhoid and also there are plans that if the vaccines [Pfizer] for the children aged 12-17 arrive [around October], the teams should have enough rest before that.
“We are looking at [vaccinating] 35,000 to 40,000, this is the total number of children at the ages of 12-17.”
The date of the arrival of the vaccines earmarked for children will determine when the vaccination campaign starts, Tagaloa said, with either late October or early November likely nominated dates.
Health Ministry figures show 114,698 eligible Samoans have received the first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the country’s two-day vaccination drive last Thursday and Friday.
The figures show that a total of 94.1 per cent, or just under 115,000 of eligible people, have received the first of the two-dose vaccine schedule. Of this total 59,618 are male while 55,246 were female, health authorities said.
However, only 57,618 Samoans have been fully vaccinated which accounts to 47.3 per cent of the eligible population. Of this figure, 31,236 are males and 26,382 are females.
The rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the nation’s villages began in late April.
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