Apia, Samoa 23 August 2021 –Samoa have today received 112,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the Government of Japan through the COVAX Facility.
COVAX is a partnership co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO), with UNICEF as the key delivery partner.
Manufactured in Japan, the two-dose vaccines will contribute toward Samoa’s mass vaccination programme by covering more than 56,000 people. Samoa has an eligible population of over 130,000 to be vaccinated with a goal of achieving 99% in the coming weeks.
The vaccines were handed over to the Government of Samoa by H.E. Mr. Genichi Terasawa, Ambassador of Japan to Samoa, in an official ceremony held at the Ministry of Health.
In attendance at the handover ceremony were cabinet ministers and government officials as well as Samoa’s development partners who have also made huge contributions to ensure Samoa has full access to vaccines for its eligible population.
“The arrival of the vaccines from Japan has added impetus to speed up the rollout of our vaccination programs with the assurance of secured supplies; for this we are appreciative of the coordinated approach to reach our target,” said the Director General of Health in Samoa, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri.
The Government of Samoa will use the latest vaccine doses provided by Japan to continue vaccinating people above 18 years of age, in line with the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan.
H.E. Mr. GenichiTerasawa, Ambassador of Japan to Samoa sad he was glad to see the vaccines had arrived.
“While Japan has been supporting Samoa’s efforts to counter the COVID-19 pandemic through providing various medical equipment, I would like to highlight that the vaccine is the first case of our assistance realised by Japan’s new ‘Pacific Bond [Kizuna] Policy,’ which was pledged at the 9th Pacific Island Leaders Meeting (PALM9) held last month. Under this policy, Japan will further strengthen our cooperation with Pacific Island countries to cope with various agenda such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” said H.E. Mr. GenichiTerasawa.
“We thank the Government and people of Japan for supporting our joint efforts in combatting the ongoing threats posed by COVID-19 throughout the Pacific region,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative Vathinee Jitjaturunt.
“We also acknowledge the Government of Samoa’s strong efforts in their preparedness and response plans. UNICEF, together with our partners, will continue to support the government in keeping communities, including children, safe and protected from this global pandemic.”
Dr. Boaping Yang, Officer in Charge of WHO in Samoa encouraged the public to continue to learn about the benefits of vaccination
“The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and prevent severe disease, hospitalisation and death. Vaccination, along with practising all the public health social measures will continue to keep Samoa safe,” said Dr. Boaping Yang.
“As vaccines are now rolling out around the world, they should complement, and not replace, proven public health measures. Samoa will continue to apply tried-and-tested measures to successfully prevent and control transmission such as physical distancing, masks, ventilation and hand hygiene, alongside robust programmes to test, trace, isolate and treat;
“In ensuring the safety and efficacy of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccine has undergone rigorous clinical trials and safety assessments to ensure it meets the highest level of safety standards”.