Samoa declares state of emergency . . .
Samoa, one of a few Pacific Island countries facing a measles outbreak, declared a state of emergency on Friday. There are more than 700 cases from across the country of this highly infectious disease; five of the six reported measles-related fatalities were children. Today, the government released its plan to create a compulsory measles vaccination program.
Fear of vaccine contributed to outbreak . . .
Samoa has one of the lowest measles immunity rates in the world. The 2008 vaccination rate was 41 per cent, a far cry from the 95 per cent needed to ensure population-wide immunity. Many Samoans lost trust in vaccinations after incorrect administration of the vaccine led to the death of two babies last year. The Samoan Ministry of Health released findings in July that the deaths were due to human error in preparing the vaccines rather than issues with the vaccines themselves. New Zealand, which is also experiencing a measles outbreak in Auckland, will send vaccines and a dozen nurses to Samoa to support the immunization program.
Not just an issue in the Pacific . . .
Measles has been on the rise around the world. The 350,000 cases reported worldwide last year were more than double the 2017 figure, and the highest they’ve been since 2006. The World Health Organization attributes the dramatic spread of the disease to misinformation about vaccines and a lack of access; it has declared the anti-vaccine movement a top-10 health threat for 2019. Vancouver suffered from a measles outbreak earlier this year and medical experts in Ottawa warn that many communities across Canada are at risk of outbreaks.
- Al Jazeera: Samoa makes measles vaccine mandatory to stop deadly outbreak
- The New York Times: Samoa closes schools as measles epidemic kills at least 6
- Samoa Observer: National Emergency Operation Centre mans measles response