Red flags to mark homes of unvaccinated in Samoa, officials say

Henrietta Brewer
December 5, 2019

"Our people are more aware now than before vaccinating their children is the only way".

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has vowed to get the figure above 90%.

"They seem to take a kind of lackadaisical attitude to all the warnings that we had issued through the television and also through the radio", he said.

He said one challenge was that a lot of people hadn't considered that measles could be deadly.

According to RNZ, the measles outbreak in the Pacific is believed to have originated in New Zealand, but has now affected other countries, including in Fiji and Tonga.


Samoa declared a state of emergency in November to combat the outbreak and vaccinations are now compulsory.

Officials suspended non-essential government services to allow public officials to support the vaccination campaign, and ordered all companies to close.

Based on the federal government, greater than 4,000 individuals have contracted the illness because the outbreak started and 172 individuals stay in hospitals, together with 19 youngsters in crucial situation.

Figures from the World Health Organisation and UNICEF indicate that fewer than 30 percent of Samoan infants were immunised previous year.

The NHS explains: "This is because the MMR vaccine is highly effective and vaccine uptake has been very high in the United Kingdom for many years".


Jose Hagan, the World Health Organisation's (WHO) medical officer for the western Pacific, said Samoa's tragedy was a grim reminder of the measles virus "being exported through global travel". Despite the convictions, vaccine advocates have used cases to increase fear of vaccines.

The measles death toll in Samoa is still going up, with another two people dying overnight. Death may occur in up to 5-10 percent of infected young children in developing countries.

A few days later, a red-brown blotchy rash will appear, which usually starts off the head or upper neck before spreading outwards to the rest of the body.

Measles can be prevented by having the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. That low price was exacerbated by a medical mishap that killed two infants who have been administered a vaccine that had been incorrectly combined, inflicting wider delays and mistrust within the vaccination program.


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