Health Director Urges Community to Get Second Dose of Covid-19 Vaccines

"There are many people out there who can now come in for their second dose, but have not done so"

Images: Sara K Scwitekk and Spencer Platt, Getty Images.

9 September 2021 Apia Samoa. Samoa’s Director General of Health is urging the public to come in for their second dose of the Covid-19 AstraZeneca before the last batch expires at the end of November.

The call was made during the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) press conference on Thursday afternoon.

Leausa Dr. Take Naseri said at least 40% of the eligible population still needed to come in and get their second dose, and the drive that had been there when people were called in to get their first dose, has somewhat declined.

“There are many out there who can now come in for the second dose but have not done so.. We are also seeing our stations such as the STA fale in Apia, very empty throughout the day,” said Leausa.

“The second dose is crucial to ensure you are fully protected, and you’ll find that most of the people in Fiji dying of the coronavirus were either not vaccinated or had not yet received their second dose,” Leausa said.

Dr Naseri stressed the importance of Samoa attaining herd immunity

“We need to attain 98-99 percent of the eligible population to attain herd immunity – that means the protection will extend to the population who are eligible to be vaccinated,” said Leausa.

The Health Chief said the expiry date for the last batch of vaccines in Samoa was the 30th of November 2021.

Leausa said Samoa needed to utilise all our covid vaccines before the expiry date.

“It’s too late to get vaccinated once covid hits. This is your preparation towards protecting Samoa. To come in and make sure your second dose is completed, and be fully vaccinated,” urges Leausa.

Leausa said the gap between the first and second dose has widened, suggesting there is a substantial portion of the population who’ve had their first dose, and are due for the second but have not yet come in.

Leausa added that it would be unfair to ask development partners for more doses, if Samoa allows our current batches to go to waste.

“E le manaia foi i le vaavaai mai o atunuu lea e foai mai tui, pe a le faaogaina.”

Up to 96,141 people have received their first dose of AstraZeneca and 44,587 or just under 37% of the eligible population are fully vaccinated.

Leading Samoa’s NEOC Team since the global pandemic hit the world. Leausa Dr Take Naseri and Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo. Photo: Loreta Kelemete, SGN.

63% of Savaii and 83% of Upolu have already received their first dose of AstraZeneca and with the spaced-out period between doses, it means Samoa’s fully vaccinated population could be as high as those percentages by the end of November – if people should heed to the Health Director’s call.

Samoa has an eligible population of 130,000 not including children under 18 and other conditions such as pregnant mothers.

63% of Savaii and 83% of Upolu have already received their first dose of AstraZeneca and with the spaced-out period between doses, it means Samoa could be “fully vaccinated” by those percentages at the end of November – if people should heed to the Health Director’s call.

MOH Team in Falelatai and Samatau during mass door to door vaccination campaign. Photo: MOH.

Leausa reminded the general public not to wait for the vaccination teams to get to their areas, but to use the fixed sites, where both the first and second doses can be administered.

National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) Chair Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo reminded Samoa that in other countries such as Hong Kong, we are seeing public protests against the lack of vaccines available, however, here in Samoa there are sufficient doses for everyone.

Agafili also confirmed that plans have been made for children 12-17 years to get vaccinated with Pfizer once the supplies arrive.

People who may have lost their first dose vaccination receipt documents are encouraged to go along to the fixed sites where the teams can assist.

Senior RN Rosa Samuelu administers Covid-19 vaccination, STA Fale, Apia. Photo: Samoa Global News.

“If your vaccination certificate is lost, please talk to the vaccination teams at your villages, or at the fixed sites to get another one and make sure you complete your doses,” Agafili explained.

As New Zealand reduces to Level 2 except for Auckland still on Level 4 lockdown in efforts to combat the delta variant, Samoa continues to forge ahead with its vaccination campaign while remaining Covid-19 free.

Samoa’s vaccinators visited the elderly and vaccinated them in their own homes.

The Ministry of Health launched a Door to Door Mass Vaccination Campaign that began on the 11th August 2021 and together with NEOC partners, continue with its stringent border restrictions at both ports, in ongoing efforts to keep Samoa Covid-19 free.

Marieta H Ilalio