Samoa’s Covid-19 vaccination programme started this afternoon, Sunday 18 April 2021, with caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi the first to receive his initial injection of the 2-dose Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
As posted on the Government Facebook page, the Savali newspaper were invited to cover the launch, held this afternoon, Sunday 18 April 2021.
Government Press Secretariat Nanai Laveitiga Tuiletufuga said the Government owned and funded Savali News was the only media invited to the launch this afternoon.
At a service to launch the arrival of vaccines held last Monday at Motootua, Tuilaepa delivered the keynote address and thanked Samoa’s development partners for their role in securing Samoa’s first batch of vaccines.
Asked at the launch if he would be first to receive the vaccination, Tuilaepa offered a lighthearted joke that he wanted to wait and be injected together with FAST party leader, Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa.
“Ou te manao lava e tui faatasi maua ma Fiame”.
The crowd appreciated that light hearted joke in view of Samoa’s headlock General Election Results of a 25-25 tie between HRPP and FAST.
However when asked by Samoa Global News if this could be a possibility for the two leaders to jointly receive the vaccine as a confidence boost to the nation, CEO of MPMC Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo said the programme for Samoa is already set.
“Faafetai mo le manatu, taoto mai sei faagaioi le polokalame e pei ona fofoga ai le atunuu i vaega e lua ua vaevaeina ai le tuiga”.
Today at the launch of the vaccination programme, the caretaker Minister of Health Faimalotoa Kika Stowers was next after the Prime Minister to receive her vaccination, taking the lead to be vaccinated for the coronavirus which has claimed over 3 million lives and affected over 140 million people around the globe to date.
AstraZeneca is a two-dose vaccine approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and distributed by the COVAX facility and its partners. COVAX is co-led by CEPI, Gavi and WHO, alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.
Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo and the Director General of Health assured the nation of the NEOC’s commitment to maintain the health of safety of Samoa throughout the global pandemic, including the rolling out of vaccines.
The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been linked to rare cases of blood clotting and although various countries did temporarily suspend its use, many resumed saying the benefits far outweighed the losses.
Samoa’s Pacific neighbours Fiji and Tonga have not had any issues since rolling out there national vaccination programmes.
Last week in Australia, Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation that provides independent expert advice to Australia’s Health Minister, recommended adults aged under 50 receive the Pfizer vaccine as the preferred choice over Astra Zeneca.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the recommendations were made with an abundance of caution due to the rare but serious side effects, which have mostly been associated with younger people.