Samoa measles outbreak death toll climbs to 48
A view of the capital Apia in Samoa.
The death toll from a measles outbreak in Samoa climbed to 53, the government said on Monday, as the number of people infected in the small Pacific nation grows by more than a hundred a day. It's the sixth day the death toll has risen, with children under the age of four making up nearly all but five of the dead.
There have been 48 measles-related deaths in Samoa since the outbreak was declared by the Ministry of Health on October 16. "When measles begins a country like that, there is a huge group of people who are not safe", she said.
Other nations, through either poverty or poor planning, have let immunisation levels slip, exposing their youngest members to a disease that aggressively attacks the immune system.
Samoa has become vulnerable to measles outbreaks as the number of people becoming immunized has declined with the World Health Organization (WHO) saying vaccine coverage is about 31%.
There are now 183 measles cases who are in-patients at all health facilities.
"I don't think that the response here has been a shining example".
This ended in the temporary suspension of the country's immunization program and depressed parents' trust in the vaccine, even though it next turned out the deaths were caused by other medicines that were mistakenly administered.
To achieve the goal, he said government services and departments would close on Thursday and Friday this week in order to allow all public servants to assist with the mass vaccination campaign throughout the country.
Officials say the anti-vaccination message has resonated in Samoa because of a case past year when two babies died after receiving measles immunisation shots.
Neighbouring New Zealand and a number of other countries and organisations, including the United Nations agency Unicef, have delivered thousands of vaccines, medical supplies and have sent medical personnel to help with the outbreak.