Anti-vaxxer arrested as Samoa battles measles epidemic

No reprieve as Samoa measles toll hits 70

No reprieve as Samoa measles toll hits 70

On Thursday and Friday, most of the public service and government services in Samoa were closed in order to allow all public servants to assist with the mass vaccination campaign throughout the island nation.

In the Marshall Islands they have been contending with a severe dengue threat, followed by influenza, while also ensuring the islands are prepared for any measles outbreak.

Samoa's immunization rate has risen to 55 percent over the past fortnight and Yett said this week's two-day drive aimed to push it above 90 percent, which should help curb the current outbreak and stop future epidemics.

Babies and very young children are at greatest risk from measles infections, with potential complications including pneumonia and encephalitis (a swelling of the brain), as well as lifelong disability - permanent brain damage, blindness or hearing loss.

The national Measles Vaccination Campaign began on 20 November 2019 with mobile outreach vaccination sites and teams, and special vaccine booths.

Across the Pacific, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga have declared and are responding to measles outbreaks, while American Samoa has reported four cases of measles imported from Samoa.

Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai, manager of the Pacific Islands Centre at the University of Otago, said she was aware some Samoan families who planned to travel home for Christmas had made a decision to stay in New Zealand for the safety of the family's children and to avoid putting more pressure on the healthcare system in Samoa. Of the deceased, 54 were children aged 4 and below.

The vaccine against measles, part of combination that fights mumps and rubella (MMR), provides full protection in about two or three weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Samoa has received aid to combat the crisis from Australia, New Zealand, France, Britain, China, Norway, Japan, American Samoa, the United States and the UN.

Ukraine suffered the second highest number of measles cases globally in 2018.

"The only cure for this is vaccination. having your children vaccinated is the only way", he said.

Yet with World Health Organization support, the government set up a national measles task force, and streamlined the delivery of quality vaccines for urgent and routine immunization drives.

"It's quite clear that they have a corporate responsibility to step up to the plate and make sure that populations, particularly vulnerable populations, get accurate information that's going to keep children alive", Yett told AFP.

"We will be collecting from those attending Friday prayers and donating to Samoa directly, and encouraging those in our community to donate themselves also if they want to". "There is a need to be in Samoa and help in whatever way they can", she said. "We speak about a nation that literally had no vaccination for a certain number of months and that happened on the ground of the very sad story that happened a year ago with the two babies killed during a routine vaccination", Ms. Marinescu stated. The status is removed if the disease reappears and spreads in the country for over a year.

The world has had a safe, proven measles vaccine for over 50 years.

Rates of 90 percent are global best practice.

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