Samoa Records 62 Deaths, Over 4,000 Measles Cases

Families that haven’t been vaccinated are told to display red flags outside their homes.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 – Samoan medical teams are now going door-to-door to administer vaccines as the death toll from measles rose to 62.

More than 150 mobile vaccination teams are going door-to-door, administering the MMR vaccine to households displaying the red flags, or any other red-coloured material.

Authorities have asked families that are not vaccinated against measles to display red flags outside their homes to allow identification by the vaccination teams.

There are more than 4,200 reported cases of measles in the country, out of a total population of 200,000, and there are currently 172 measles patients in the country’s hospitals including 19 critically ill children and three pregnant women.

“Every child that arrives is well-known to people across the hospital, or to the community that’s involved with their care,” Abby Trewin from the Australian National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre told the ABC.

“It does have an emotional impact on staff, as well as other families around these sick children,” she said.

At least one funeral home in Samoa has run out of coffins for children, another media was quoted as saying by ABC.

Separately, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele denied claims that his government was slow in responding to the epidemic.

He also defended his government’s controversial decision to suspend measles vaccinations for several months last year, following the deaths of two children who were later found to have been administered the shots incorrectly.

The babies received shots that had vaccine powder mixed with an expired anaesthetic, which caused their lives. The two nurses involved in the incident pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were jailed.

He added that when the deaths happened, there were concerns about the safety of Samoa’s vaccine stocks.

“Those two children died, at the same time, there was also suspicion, and not just in Samoa but also those overseas say in America, where a lot of people [were] questioning the vaccines we are using,” he said.

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