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Task Force mandates COVID vaccination for all travelers

Task Force meeting

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Travelers wishing to enter or leave American Samoa will be required to provide proof that they have been vaccinated for COVID-19. This will not apply to travelers that are too young to be vaccinated or those who are not medically qualified to be vaccinated. Those who cannot be vaccinated will need to be quarantined for a longer time. Children who are quarantined will need a parent or guardian to accompany them.

The new requirement was announced during the latest meeting of the COVID Task Force held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at the Department of Homeland Security’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and will be incorporated into the new emergency declaration due to be released later this week. 

The move is aimed at increasing the vaccination rate for American Samoa which would boost protection of residents from the virus should it reach our shores. Vaccination of our eligible population is the best way to protect our people.  It would be dangerous to open our borders without having enough of our residents vaccinated to move closer to herd immunity.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday expanded the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to cover those ages 12 through 15.  American Samoa’s eligible population now totals 36,917.  Based on the latest Department of Health data, this means 59% of those eligible to get the vaccine have received at least one shot. Of that, 51% are fully vaccinated. The majority of the unvaccinated population are those 30 years and younger.

DOH which is leading the vaccination efforts has met with village mayors and traditional leaders from the Office of Samoan Affairs. There are also efforts to include clergy in the vaccination plans to promote innovative incentives.  Increasing the vaccination rate is the only way we can safely open the borders to other places in the United States that have COVID-19, according to ther Task Force release.