'Join the fight': first timers boost campaign

Some of the eligible population who are receiving their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Thursday have appealed to the public to get vaccinated and not trust misinformation spread on social media concerning vaccines.

This was the view shared by Faasami Tiatia during an interview with the Samoa Observer. 

The 53-year-old from Tuamua is one of many people in her village who will be getting vaccinated as part of a two-day national COVID-19 mass vaccination program for Thursday and Friday this week. 

The Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) aims to boost the immunisation coverage against the COVID-19 to 99 per cent of Samoa’s eligible population. 

While the Government-declared two-day lockdown went into effect at 8am on Thursday morning with the streets of the capital Apia deserted and the police manning roadblocks to enforce the stay-home order. 

More than 60 teams were assigned to vaccinate the eligible population of Upolu Island. The Health Ministry has also advised the public to help the vaccination teams to identify the individuals and families who have not been vaccinated, by tying a piece of red cloth or a red flag in front of their residences. 

The mother of eight waited eagerly in front of her home to get her first jab of the vaccine. 

“I admit there was a feeling of fear in the beginning because of misinformation being spread not only by people but also on social media about the effects of the vaccines,” she said.

She explained the fear did impact her decision from getting vaccinated at first.

“But after hearing so much awareness from our health officials and especially our Government concerning the significance of getting vaccinated, I decided to get my first dose.

“I want to protect my family against the COVID-19 virus if it ever arrives in Samoa.”

Ms. Tiatia also said that she supports the Government’s decision to have a complete shut-down so that people can be found at their homes.

“I am happy that after getting my first dose, I can rest for the remainder of the day. It feels really peaceful with the current lockdown.

“Our people must remember it takes a community, families and one country working together to be able to make anything work and be successful.

“I am aware that the importance of us who are eligible to be vaccinated can protect those who are not eligible to receive the vaccines.”

A young mother of two, Sina Afe said that she is receiving her first dose on Thursday.

“It is because I was scared before due to people spreading that we will die after getting vaccinated.

“However, it was through the countless promotions and awareness programmes by Government on how important it is to be vaccinated to safeguard our families that I made the decision that I am getting vaccinated for the sake of my children.”

The 25-year-old also advised those that are scared to be vaccinated, “if we say we love our families, friends, villages and country then get vaccinated and join fight against COVID-19.”

All businesses have also closed due to the lockdown from 8am till 6pm. While the Samoa Shipping Corporation Limited announced that they have ceased scheduled trips between Upolu and Savaii for the two-day shutdown.

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