COVID-19 Task Force is fighting rumors about vaccinations
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The COVID-19 Task Force is advising members of the public not to listen to any false reports circulating on social media that many people around the world have died after they got their shots of the COVID-19 vaccine.
At a press conference with members of the local media this week, members of the Task Force appealed to the public to please get vaccinated to prevent getting the deadly coronavirus.
However, the Task Force was informed by members of the media that one of the problems that is causing many people to not be vaccinated is the false information circulating on social media stating that many people in the United States and the around the world have died after taking their COVID-19 shots.
“We have facts to prove that no one in the United States and also around the world has died from the vaccine,” Dr. Saleapaga said during the press conference.
“I urge members of our community not to listen or believe the false information circulating on social media. Those who died were affected by the coronavirus, not the vaccine.”
Dr. Saleapaga made it clear to the public that the three vaccines that are now available for the COVID-19 are approved by CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Dr. Saleapaga stressed that the COVID vaccine is the only protection from the virus and urged that the eligible population who have not yet been vaccinated do so if they have any love for the elderly population, those who can’t get the shots because of underlying medical conditions or are 11 and under.
It was also pointed out that future travel to and from American Samoa would require COVID vaccinations. The Task Force plans to open the border with Hawaii in August and with Samoa next month, hence another reason why the task force is adamant about increasing the vaccination numbers.
Task Force officials are asking Church leaders to encourage members of their churches to get vaccinated for the deadly coronavirus.
Dr. Saleapaga pointed out that there are some church members who don’t want to be vaccinated because they totally believed God will protect American Samoa from this deadly coronavirus.
“There is nothing to disapprove the Bible that God is our protector, however, God also wants us church members to remember that faith goes together with works. If you have faith in the Lord and you don’t have to work [for it], your faith will be dead,” Dr. Saleapaga.
“So, your work to support your faith is to get vaccinated before or if the deadly coronavirus reaches our shore and kills everybody, [and then] the church will no longer have members to pray for us.”
Dr. Saleapaga stated that the Task Force is still using the terminology ‘encouraging’ vaccination rather than ‘requiring’ vaccination. He clarified that this does not mean that travelers who are too young to be vaccinated or those who are not medically qualified to be vaccinated would be denied entry or exit, but they will be quarantined. Those who cannot be vaccinated will need to be quarantined for a longer time and children who are quarantined will need a parent or guardian to accompany them.
Department of Health Epidemiologist Dr Aifili Tufa said that the number of vaccinations administered at the distribution sites saw a slight increase compared to the previous week, and they hope that this trend continues while they plan innovative ways to promote vaccinations, and as the American Samoa Government’s repatriation program doubles its number of flights entering during the summer months — which began last month.
The Task Force stated that the American Samoa Department of Health continues to push forward with vaccination plans in coordination with the Office of Samoan Affairs to begin rolling out their village strategy and aims to provide increased accessibility to the vaccination sites.
Vaccination coverage by district/ village presented at the Task Force suggests that villages further west and that live furthest away from vaccination distribution sites show a lower rate of vaccination.
The vaccination working group continues with their work for vaccination of children ages 12-15 years old as approved by the FDA for emergency use authorization, which started also last month.
Last month, vaccination updates include 65% with at least one shot for ages 16 and above and 57% that have completed two shots for ages 16 and above. In terms of the total population of American Samoa, 40.9% of the population has completed their vaccination, 46.9% have received at least one dose, 31.0% have not yet received any doses, and 22.1% are not yet eligible to receive vaccination.
PASSENGERS ON REPAT #5 RELEASED FROM QUARANTINE
All passengers from the last repatriation flight were released from the quarantine, according to the Task Force.
A total of 252 passengers are expecting to be on the next repatriation flight, which is June 24th, 2021. Out of the total passengers, 152 of them have already received their first shot for the deadly coronavirus; 32 have already received both shots, and 26 were not vaccinated.
The COVID-19 Task Force and the Department of Health continue to emphasize and stress to the American Samoa community –- locally and abroad in the US and Hawaii — to please get vaccinated and to do their part in keeping themselves, their families, and the community safe from COVID-19.
The latest news from Hawaii is that while a highly contagious strain of the COVID-19 virus is now in Hawaii, data seems to indicate that those who are vaccinated experienced milder symptoms.