Without COVID-19 cases, how does American Samoa’s vaccination rate compare to other US jurisdictions?
American Samoa is one of the few places in the world that has avoided the coronavirus completely—there have been no confirmed cases. This is a result of the strict lockdowns and travel regulations that were implemented by the government. As Holger Drössler explains, this is the result of past successes with the implementation of similar measures to limit the impact of previous pandemics, such as Zika in 2016, Dengue Fever in 2017, and measles in 2019. However, this history and the measures taken by the Government of American Samoa are not shared by all of the other United States territories.
The development of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines was a massive step in the fight against this deadly disease. The US territories were included in the phased rollout that began in the United States in late 2020. Phase 1 of the rollout included healthcare workers and immunocompromised individuals. Since then, the vaccines have become available to anyone above the age of 12.
As of August 20, 2021, the population of American Samoa, ages 12 and above, is 51.7% vaccinated, according to the New York Times. They have the third-highest vaccination rate among the US territories and the 47th highest rate among US jurisdictions overall. However, their rate is comparable to the United States overall, which also is about 51% vaccinated.
The lower vaccination rate in American Samoa is likely the result of the fact that the vaccines need to be stored at extremely cold temperatures, and there are only a few facilities in the territory that are capable of storing them. Therefore, the vaccines must be stored at these locations and then transported to health centers around the island so that they can be administered. However, it is likely that the vaccination rate in American Samoa will continue to rise, and that the territory will continue to be protected from this deadly virus. As the vaccination rate rises, officials in American Samoa are hoping that tourism and other industries will reopen.