Samoa measles: Unvaccinated families told to hang red flag on door

Clay Curtis
December 4, 2019

Six-month-old Fono John reacts after receiving a measles vaccination in Samoa.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi revealed during a press conference that all departments of the government, besides the water authority and electric power corporation, would be shut down on Thursday and Friday.

There are now more than 4,000 cases of measles recorded in the island nation's deeply religious population of around 200,000.

The immunisation rate was about 30 percent before the outbreak and officials say it has now reached about 55 percent.

Over the past years, anti-vaxxers went against immunization, and the circulating news on the effects of vaccines has left many parents reluctant to have their babies vaccinated.

Words shared alongside the images stated public servants will be mobilized to help the campaign as part of the government's "initiative to eradicate the measles crisis and future outbreak that will jeopardize the safety of Samoa".

He added that certain issues that people should understand.

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Malielegaoi was unequivocal in his message, telling his people "vaccination is the only cure... no traditional healers or kangen (alkaline) water preparations can cure measles".

"The answer to our prayers is with us through the services of the doctors and nurses and all health personnel".

With tens of thousands of people vaccinated recently, the estimated vaccine coverage now stands at 73 percent for children 6 months to 4 years in both Upolu and Savai'i. Death may occur in up to 5-10 percent of infected young children in developing countries.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can sometimes lead to serious health complications, including infections of the lungs and brain.

Measles is a virus that originally causes a runny nostril, sneezing and fever.

A few days later it leads to a blotchy rash that starts off on the face and spreads across the body.

The only way to curb the outbreak and to prevent infection is by getting the vaccine.

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