Samoa Runs Out of Vaccines, Public Asked to Wait for Arrival of Shipment

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Members of the public were turned away from the doors of the Ministry Health’s Vaccination Centre at Motootua National Hospital today, informed by a sign on the door that Samoa has temporarily run out of its supply of vaccines.

The “Important Notice” dated 01st February 2022 advises the public the “COVID VACCINE IS OUT OF SUPPLY” and the public will be informed once a shipment arrives.

“They are advertising for us to come in and get vaccinated, but this sign is saying we’ve run out,” said one member of the public outside the EPI building at Motootua.

“Na folafola mai fo’i e omai e fai tui ao lea ua omai ae faimai ua uma, ae sa tatau ona logo ma faailoa mai, lea ua gau le omai mea mamao.”

Tuasivi District Hospital in Savaii also confirmed that a sworm of people had come in for vaccinations since the lockdown, and they had run out of supplies in the weekend. “The new supply should be in by next week”.

According to the latest publication of Samoa’s vaccination numbers from the Ministry of Health on the 21st of January, 86.4% or 105,257 of Samoa’s eligible adult population are fully vaccinated while 96.1% or 117,044 have had their first dose. That equates to 11,787 adults yet to have received their second dose, when Samoa went into lockdown on Saturday 22nd January.

Last Friday, the Ministry announced it would carry out covid-19 vaccinations on Saturday 29th January, due to public demand and enquires from those not yet fully vaccinated. An earlier public announcement stated vaccinations for children 12-17 years was temporarily suspended.

However, today, a sign dated 1st February is posted on the door of the EPI Building, announcing Samoa had run out of vaccines. The Ministry of Health posts regular updates of information on their Facebook page, however, other than the notice on the door of vaccination sites, no information on the status of vaccines has been published.

Members of the public who had travelled from rural areas of Upolu said a public notice would have saved them the trip to Apia. “Our district hospitals don’t have any available”.  One man said he needed to have his second dose, and another said he was fully vaccinated, and had heard booster shots were available. Both said they had checked online notices and there was no reference to a temporary suspension of vaccinations.

Minister of Health CEO Leausa Take Naseri has repeatedly announced during press conferences that Samoa’s supply of vaccinations is adequate to cover its population, and regular shipments are coming into Samoa.

Prime Minister Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa aslo stated in last week’s press conference that each MOH vaccination site had their own supply of covid-19 vaccines. “E tofu lava sites taitasi ma o latou supply o tui, ona o le lolofi atu o le atunuu i le taimi nei sa iai le taimi na short ai le tui ae o le taimi nei lea ua toe maua uma mai le supply.”

When Samoa’s Covid-19 vaccination roll-out moved from frontliners to members of the general public in April 2021, the Ministry of Health and NEOC announced it would continue until the target of 133,000 eligible Samoans 18 years and under are fully vaccinated. Pfizer for children aged 12-17 started late last year using schools to reach students. Samoa has also had nation-wide lockdowns in efforts to vaccinate the eligible population.

Level 2 lockdown conditions requires proof of full vaccination before entry and employers in the public and private sectors have made it compulsory to be vaccinated in order to be allowed at workplaces.