Samoa joins Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Nauru and Tuvalu, to receive COVID-19 vaccine doses shipped via the COVAX Facility.
The arrival into Apia of 24,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine marks the sixth batch of vaccines to arrive in the Pacific region through the COVAX Facility in the global partnership’s effort to deliver at least two billion doses of vaccines across the globe.
“Samoa has long awaited the arrival of the first doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine as we continue to adhere to stringent prevention measures. We are most appreciative of the support through the COVAX facility ensuring early and equitable access to vaccines and are deeply grateful in particular to our partners who have made the journey with us to support vaccination efforts and other crucial public health measures, in the past, now and into the future,” said caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, on receiving the news of the arrival of the vaccines.
Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccination Alliance, emphasized that “COVAX’s mission is to help end the acute phase of the pandemic as soon as possible, allowing global equitable access to vaccines against COVID-19.”
“We acknowledge the Samoan Government’s efforts to ensure robust preparedness and response plans to address the threat of COVID-19,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Sheldon Yett.
“We will continue to work with the government and partners, through the COVAX facility, to support vaccination efforts and other essential public health measures to keep communities protected.”
Dr. Akeem Ali, the Acting Director of WHO’s Division of Pacific Technical Support commends Samoa as one of the few countries in the world currently without active cases of COVID-19, and no deaths as a result of COVID-19..
“A lot of hard work has gone into this. Now we have another important tool: vaccines. WHO has been carefully monitoring the rollout of all COVID-19 vaccines and will continue to work closely with countries to manage potential risks, and make timely recommendations based on science and data,” says the WHO rep.
“We encourage Samoans to work with the Ministry of Health to get vaccinated; and to maintain the protective measures that have kept the country safe to date.”
The Ministry of Health in Samoa is targeting frontline staff in line with global recommendations. This will include frontline healthcare workers, border control staff as well as government and private sector staff who are responding to COVID-19 quarantine and management of operations.
For several months, COVAX partners have been supporting governments and partners in readiness efforts, in preparation for this moment. They have been especially active in working with countries benefitting from the Advance Market Commitment (AMC), an innovative financial mechanism to help secure global and equitable access for COVID-19 vaccines. This includes assisting with the development of national vaccination plans, support for cold chain infrastructure, as well as stockpiling of half a billion syringes and safety boxes for their disposal, masks, gloves and other equipment to ensure that there is enough equipment for health workers to start vaccinating priority groups as soon as possible.
Vaccines are now arriving in batches to supported countries following necessary preparatory work being completed to ensure immediate administration of vaccines to priority groups identified by national governments in their vaccine deployment plans.
Samoa has completed preparatory work in good time and therefore able to receive allotted vaccines from COVAX.
According to Samoa’s Director General of Health, more than one hundred nurses have already been through the relevant trainings to administer vaccinations. This is in addition to nurses who were already qualified vaccinators.
“As a matter of logistics, we have already identified more than 150 teams, allocated to different locations and venues across the country,” said Leausa.
Samoa will hold a special service to commemorate the arrival of the vaccines and bless the roll out of the first wave of vaccines.
The ACT Accelerator is a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO. Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with UNICEF as key implementing partner, as well as civil society organisations, vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others.