DOH receives over $100K worth of flu vaccine for Flu Season
This is the final two weeks of the Flu Campaign spearheaded by the Department of Health’s Immunization Program and everyone is urged to visit any one of the designated sites to receive their free vaccination shots.
Those who are 6 months of age to18 years old, the elderly, and all adults are urged to visit one of the four local health centers in Fagaalu (Physical Clinic and Well Baby Clinic), Amouli, Leone, and Tafuna; and the two health centers in the Manu’a Islands (Ta’u and Ofu) to get vaccinated.
The influenza virus or the "flu" is a serious and contagious disease. It is spread through coughing, sneezing and nasal secretions. Anyone can get the flu, but infections are highest in children and people with certain conditions like diabetes, hypertension, renal dialysis, asthma and pregnant women.
The Department of Health recently received Excess Flu Vaccine Supply from the US Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) Excess DOD Vaccine Program. For the past seven years, excess supply of flu vaccines has been donated to the DOH Immunization Program for the people of American Samoa.
The USAPI DOD Vaccine Program is a public-private partnership that delivers excess DOD seasonal influenza vaccine to the USAPIs, which includes American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
“It is the undying duty of the Department of Health to ensure that our community receives the flu vaccine through its distribution to the clinics and various health outreaches in the Mobilized Immunization Clinic Van,” said Yolanda Masunu-Faleafaga of the local DoH Immunization Program.
“Vaccination is by far the best health tool ever, used to protect our people from diseases,” she said.
Masunu-Faleafaga explained that Director of Health Tuileama Nua actively participates in ensuring that all health care services are provided to the people of American Samoa, and one of his main initiatives is the Home Visiting Program which is currently being implemented.
“We are very thankful to the JTF-HD Vaccine Program for their continuous assistance in providing the flu surplus,” Masunu-Faleafaga said.
“We are also fortunate that Hawaiian Airlines Cargo Manager, George Ka’anana has made it possible over the years to deliver the shipments free of charge,” she explained.
The annual breakdown of the donation by flu season is noted below for all USAPIs:
2009-2010 0 (H1N1 Season, no excess DOD vaccine)
For 2013, American Samoa received more than 12,000 doses for its people, which is worth over $100,000. This was the first year the Department of Health had received such a huge supply of flu vaccine.
Unfortunately, Masunu-Faleafaga explained, “We were told that this is the last year for this vaccine program. However, we continue to appreciate the help the people of American Samoa received in previous years.
Director Nua encourages our people, village leaders, and congregations to join DoH in promoting flu vaccinations to help protect our people from the flu virus, especially our babies who cannot be vaccinated.”
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months old and older, including health care workers. Those who want to schedule vaccinations for their agencies and/or villages can call 633-5318 or the DOH Immunization Program at 699-8464/8465 for more information on how this can be done.
THE VACCINE PROGRAM
The Vaccine Program is a collaborative effort between governmental, non-governmental and private sector agencies which include the Joint Task Force Homeland Defense (JTF-HD), Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC) Division of Logistics and Department of Preventive Medicine, the United States Army Medical Materiel Agency (USAMMA), the Military Vaccine Agency (MILVAX), the United States Coast Guard, Pacific Island Health Officers Association, and Hawaiian Airlines.
American Samoa and other USAPIs do receive their influenza vaccine through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), but not in sufficient quantities to achieve the level of immunization necessary for ‘herd immunity’. That is why JTF-Homeland Defense steps in and assists the islands in ensuring excess flu vaccines are collected and sent to all island jurisdictions.
Seasonal influenza is a deadly disease that kills 36,000 Americans, on average, every year. Receiving the flu shot protects not only the recipient, but also all those people who work closely or live with the vaccine recipient.