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Samoa’s government to shut down for 48 hours to enable mass measles vaccination


Samoa’s government to shut down for 48 hours to enable mass measles vaccination

samoa measles
Photo: Government of Samoa

Samoa’s government will shut down for 48 hours from today in order to allow public servants to assist with a mass vaccination campaign amid a serious outbreak of measles.

Out of a population of 200,000, more than 3,700 measles cases and 53 deaths have been reported. These cases are often attributable to people turning towards traditional healers instead of vaccinations.

The government has urged all Samoans to get vaccinated, calling on village councils, faith-based organisations and church leaders to assist with the immunisation program.

The improper vaccination of two infants last year, which led to their deaths, caused growing public scepticism over the efficacy of the vaccination. This in turn caused a brief halt in vaccinations, resulting in only 31% of Samoans being vaccinated before the onset of the current epidemic.

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In addition to Samoa, there has been an uptick in measles in other nations in the Pacific region such as New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji. Australia, New Zealand and the WHO are leading a multilateral effort to assist Samoa and control the spread of measles throughout the region. Expect a continued restriction of travel, mandatory evacuation and other public restrictions to continue until the majority of the population is vaccinated.

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