Samoa’s Cabinet has received a report from the Ministry of Health confirming over 3,000 Pfizer vaccines had to be discarded, declared unusable after a power outage caused problems to the vaccine storage facility according to the report.
Prime Minister Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa in an interview with the Government’s Press Secretariat said the MOH report pointed to issues with electricity supply, which caused the refrigeration storage facility to shut down. According to the MOH report, issues with electricity supply then also led to problems with technology, rendering communication systems that should have alerted authorities to the refrigeration issue, unusable.
“O le mea ua tupu ua pe le pusa aisa ona o le faaletonu o le eletise.. ma ua faapena foi ona faaletonu ai nisi o ala faatekonolosi, e taulogologo ai se faaletonu o loo tulai mai i totonu o tatou pusa aisa..”
Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa said the damaged vaccines are Pfizers, while the AstraZeneca vaccines that are more susceptible to warmer temperatures, were unaffected.
Fiame said the situation could have been a lot worse, however, the damage was minimised by the fact that Samoa did not store all its vaccines in one location.
“There are multiple storage facilities, and supplies of Pfizer vaccines had already been delivered to Savaii, and the various District Hospitals in Upolu”.
The Prime Minister said Cabinet is concerned with issues of performance by the public sector, such as the casual approach towards valuable public assets, especially those which had been gifted by Samoa’s development partners.
As such Cabinet has referred the MOH report to the Public Service Commission for further investigation in relation to performance of staff involved.
Fiame said this unfortunate incident has raised an opportunity for the Ministry of Health to review their processes in relation to vaccine storage and ensure better care of the nation’s vaccines.
“What we all must appreciate, is that these vaccines are being donated by international organisations and our partners..”
Prime Minister Fiame said Samoa must not be careless in taking care of vaccines.
“Another example is our $30 million tala Nafanua patrol boat,” the Prime Minister compared. “Public servants must better protect these valuable assets gifted to us from our development partners”.
“O aseta taugata tele, ma e lē tatau ona faataaloa le vaaiga o aseta nei..”