The Health Department needs twenty additional medical personnel doctors and nurses to carry out the mass measles vaccination campaign to stop the spread of the measles virus in the territory.
Health Director Motusa Tuleama Nua told KHJ News that he’s requesting retired nurses and doctors who are willing and able to work to step forward His plan is to hire them on short term contracts.
With the continued public health emergency declaration, it’s possible a request may also be made to the federal government for doctors and nurses to be assigned to the territory.
Hawaii sent a mission of 76 last week to help Samoa’s mass vaccination but this was all on a voluntary mission spearheaded by the state’s Lt Governor Josh Green. The team inoculated 10,00 people in two days,
DOH’s mass immunization plan is targeting 12, 481 people.
There’s been some slight changes to the plan that was announced at the special cabinet meeting on Sunday.
It was planned that after the vaccination of children 6 months and older and first responders, the mass vaccination for everyone else at 13 village sites and 6 community health clinics will begin Friday.
However Motusa said yesterday they will start vaccinating ASG employees after the children and first responders. The ASG vaccination is planned for Wednesday to Saturday this week after which vaccination of the general public is scheduled to start Monday. The ASG vaccination sites are the EOC/for Argosy Building in Ottoville and the AP Lutali EOB, Utulei.
The Health Director also pointed out that StarKist Samoa has requested vaccinations of their employees at the cannery and they are working out logistics and a time table for this. The cannery is scheduled to shut down for the Christmas and New Year holidays December 20, and resume production on January 6 next year.
There are over 2,000 cannery workers and traditionally the majority return home to Samoa to spend their Christmas and New Year holidays.
DOH has started enforcing the requirement that persons traveling to countries with measles outbreaks must have an MMR shot 14 days before they leave . How this will impact the cannery workforce remains to be seen.
With publicity about the territory’s proof of immunization requirements for travelers, relatives with loved ones coming home for the holidays via Hawaiian Air have mistakenly thought this applies to them.
Motusa said Hawaiian Airlines has been advised to inform their passengers that those traveling from the US mainland and Hawaii do not need proof of immunization.
However if those passengers come here go to Samoa or other countries with measles outbreaks and intend to come back to the territory, they have to show proof that they were vaccinated 14 days prior to arriving back in the territory.
Motusa said while it’s not required, it doesn’t hurt for travelers to carry their immunization records at this time just to be on the safe side.