21 Jan 2021

More Covid-19 vaccines arrive in American Samoa

8:46 am on 21 January 2021

A new shipment of Covid-19 vaccines has arrived in American Samoa, 7800 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Our correspondent said it's the intention of health authorities to complete 10,000 vaccinations before the first repatriation flight from Honolulu on January 29.

Dr Francine Amoa, chair of the Covid Vaccine Working Group said they hope to start vaccinating the next tier group by Friday, that is the 16 year-olds and up.

But she's hoping that before they start on that age group, more 65 year-olds and up will come in for their first shots.

As of Tuesday, 4,506 people had received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and 870 had completed both doses. That's just over 12% of the eligible population.

There's been discussion about taking the vaccination campaign out into the community similar to the measles immunization outreach.

However Chief Epidemiologist Dr Aifili John Tufa said distribution is a challenge because of the storage requirements for Pfizer.

Epidemiologist Aifili Dr John Tufa

Epidemiologist Aifili Dr John Tufa Photo: RNZ Pacific / Monica Miller

The Pfizer vaccine has to be stored in -70 degrees Celsius.

"It means we cannot bring it out to the community," Tufa said.

"It needs to be near the cold storage. Also, because the vaccines are new, we still want to make sure that we are close to the clinic or hospital in case there is an allergic reaction," he said.

Another challenge for the health authorities is that the territory gets a certain allotment, so it needs to make sure there's enough to last for both doses per month," he said.

"We only get a certain number of doses per month.," Tufa said.

These are both first and second doses. We cant push out too much beyond our allotment in case a shipment is compromised or does not arrive," he said.