Samoa caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi says that 79,000 batches of COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in the country by the end of March.
Tuilaepa said the Government has been told it will receive a much larger than previously stated number.
“We have received confirmation that at the end of the month of this month, we will receive our first 79,000 vaccines; the vaccination programme will roll out as soon as it arrives as we await more vaccines,” a translation of Tuilaepa’s statement reads.
Last month, caretaker Minister of Health, Faimalotoa Kika Stowers said Samoa is preparing to receive a total of 5000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, or enough to immunise 2500 workers.
The vaccines are dispensed in two doses.
But now with 79,000 expected by the end of this month, the number of individuals to be vaccinated using the first batch has increased to 39,000.
The caretaker Prime Minister did not mention which versions of the COVID-19 vaccine are coming in the first batch.
He repeated plans to expedite the immunisation of priority workers during the vaccination programme.
“Vaccination will start with the frontline workers faced with the task of checking for the virus and those who are put in managed isolation; they are the closest to those who are sick and then the elderly,” Tuilaepa said.
“But the sure information is that our vaccines arrive at the end of this month and our country does not have a large population, compared to other large nations around the world, which means it would only take one week for us to carry out vaccinations for the whole country.
“We will see what the situation will be, whether or not vaccination programmes will need to go far into the rural areas and for this we will need the critical support of each village through its village council
According to the Director-General of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, Samoa will be receiving one of two leading versions of the COVID-19 vaccine and whichever arrives first will be put to use.
Samoa will receive either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford University AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, he said.
Leausa said the health sector is making preparations to store and deliver the vaccines, which is expected to arrive in March and April.
Nurses are currently undergoing refresher courses on vaccine administration, including becoming certified vaccinators.
Tuilaepa previously announced that the Government is closely observing the possible side effects of vaccines ahead of their projected arrival.
He said social distancing restrictions could be expected to continue “for some time” even after the vaccination is rolled out…PACNEWS
SOURCE: SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS