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American Samoa’s “Short amnesty” may be extended 15 days

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — GGov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has voiced concerns with overstayers who have not gotten their MMR shots, and has indicated the administration’s willingness to extend the deadline of the “short amnesty” for these illegal immigrants to get vaccinated, as the government moves to vaccinate inmates in an effort to prevent the spread of measles.

Provisions of the governor’s Dec. 8th emergency declaration due to the local measles outbreak, gives 30 days — from the date of the declaration — for overstayers to come in to update their immigration status, and show proof of vaccination.

“The biggest challenge is our [short] amnesty. I think we need to be forceful on this and bring these individuals in” and have them immunized, said Lolo during Sunday morning’s cabinet briefing on the measles update held at the Emergency Operations Center and aired on KVZK-TV.

Lolo called on Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale to look into whether there’s a a need to extend the short amnesty for an additional 15 days so all these individuals — overstayers — are vaccinated.

At the briefing, LBJ and Health officials announced there were no new cases reported to the hospital in the last two weeks, up to last Saturday. It was noted that there’s still a small percentage of students who have not received their required vaccination shots.

Lolo urged LBJ and DoH to continue to collaborate, to achieve this goal. “All must be done to protect our people especially our children,” he said, adding that another big issue is getting all school-aged children, who have not received all their shots, to be fully immunized.

Lolo directed Education director Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga and Health director Motusa Tuileama Nua “to work out a plan to ensure that all students are vaccinated.”

As for daycare centers, Human and Social Services director Muavaefa’atasi John Suisala said there’s about 900-plus children in the centers and about 63 of them are being tracked, with parents being contacted to verify if the MMR shots have been administered.

For the Territorial Correctional Facility, Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson noted that inmates - as well as those housed at the Juvenile Detention Center - were vaccinated on Sunday.

Secretary of Samoan Affairs, Mauga T. Asuega, who attended the briefing urged the community — including church and village leaders — to work with the government on getting everyone immunized.