By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The measles death toll has risen to 17, including 16 children in Samoa. This is included in the more than 1000 suspected cases reported recently.


The Samoan Ministry of Health (SMoH) provided details of the mass vaccination campaign due to start this week in urban Apia and Leulomoega. Approximately 70,000 people are in the targeted groups for vaccination (children and infants aged 6 month to 19 year olds and non-pregnant women aged 20 to 35 years).

In addition, the government issued compulsory national vaccination orders, starting with those aged between six months and 19 years old. Older age groups will be immunized once those most at risk are protected from the illness.

“These groups are prioritized as the most vulnerable and unvaccinated young children are at high risk of measles and its complications, including death,” the government said in a statement.

The government has also warned anti-vaxxers, saying any efforts to hinder the campaign are illegal.

“Any person that actively discourages or prevents in any way members of the community from receiving their vaccination injection, is hereby warned, to cease immediately, and is similarly warned not to take any further action of that kind,” it said.

Pregnant women in Samoa who are unvaccinated against measles have been told to stop going to work.

Australia and New Zealand have sent help to Samoa.

10 New Zealand Medical Assistance Team (NZMAT) members (including 2 doctors, 4 nurses and 2 logisticians) arrived in Apia this week. This team will support operations at Leulumoega Rural District Hospital for an initial rotation of two weeks.

Australia has sent a specialist team of nurses, doctors and public health experts to Samoa. “An Australian Medical Assistance Team will work alongside Samoan health personnel to provide urgent care to critically ill patients, support vaccinations and develop public health messages,” Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said on Thursday.

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