Children's vaccination next week: health chief

By Adel Fruean 21 October 2021, 9:38PM

The Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri has confirmed that the vaccination of children 12-17 years of age with the Pfizer vaccine will begin next week.

Speaking during the National Emergency Operation Centre (N.E.O.C.) press conference on Wednesday evening, Leausa said that a flight will arrive on Friday bringing the Pfizer vaccines.

“Once the vaccines arrive, we will begin preparations,” Leausa said. “We will start administrating the vaccines within schools on Monday."

However, he said that they had started rolling out the vaccinations in the hospital and explained the Ministry has already distributed to school teachers information papers in relation to the vaccine for parents to be informed. 

The Ministry of Health Deputy-Director General of Public Health, Tagaloa Dr. Robert Thomsen revealed last month that the Ministry was looking at vaccinating 35,000 to 40,000 children with the Pfizer vaccine which is around the total number of children at the ages of 12-17. 

Leausa also explained in a previous press conference about handling the vaccine, “even the temperature drop can compromise the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine.” 

He also said that the plan is that once the vaccines arrive it is no use storing it for long because it can compromise it, “once the vial is opened it has to be used within 4 to 6 hours.” 

A sudden power outage can also affect the effectiveness of the vaccines and the M.O.H. is currently servicing its standby generators to address that issue. 

Leausa said the request was made to New Zealand to have the vaccines supplied in patches so that it is not left in storage in case an issue comes up. 

He also hopes that the Infant Amendment Act 2019 will assist the Ministry in vaccinating students. The law was passed shortly after the measles epidemic in 2019-2020 which claimed 83 lives of mostly infants and made it mandatory for students to be enrolled with a comprehensive vaccination record.

The Director General said a certificate confirming the child being inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine is crucial for students' enrollment next year similar to the measles immunisation certificate. 

The N.E.O.C. is planning to roll out the vaccine in schools before the long Christmas holiday and will continue with its vaccine campaign up to next year. 

Leausa said the approach is to use electoral districts division and communicate with the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) on the school calendar days to plan the roll out. 

The Pfizer is a World Health Organization approved COVID-19 vaccine and FDA of the United States certified, it is also currently used in New Zealand for their mass vaccination campaign.

Health Ministry figures show 115,545 eligible Samoans have received the first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as of 21 October. 

The figures show that a total of 94.8 per cent of eligible people, have received the first of the two-dose vaccine schedule. Of this total 59,738 are male while 55,807 were female, health authorities said. 

However, only 78,596 Samoans have been fully vaccinated which accounts to 64.5 per cent of the eligible population. Of this figure, 41,543 are males and 37,053 are females.

The rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the nation’s villages began in late April.

By Adel Fruean 21 October 2021, 9:38PM
Samoa Observer

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