New Zealand Foreign Minister Hon Winston Peters has announced that at the request of the Samoan Government, New Zealand will be providing additional support to Samoa by way of 3000 vaccinations and 12 nursing staff.
“In response to a request from the people of Samoa, New Zealand is providing 3000 measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines and 12 nurses to assist in containing a serious and growing measles outbreak,” Mr Peters said.
“Measles is highly contagious, and the outbreak has taken lives in Samoa. It is in everybody’s interests that we work together to stop its spread,” he added.
According to the Beehive release, the first lot of nurses, who will administer the vaccinations are due to arrive on Wednesday, “with other nurses working on a rotation basis over the coming weeks”.
“The vaccines are undergoing final clearance to arrive in Samoa next week”.
Mr Peters says New Zealand had responded to earlier requests from Samoa for medical supplies, and for pharmaceutical refrigerators “which are essential to preserving the efficacy of vaccines.”
The press release adds that supllies already sent to Samoa includes face masks, gowns, hand sanitisers, stretcher beds, and vaccination fridges.
Samoa has last night set out a State of Emergency Order for a mandatory nation-wide MMR vaccination with an estimated 75,000 children needing to be vaccinated.
The epidemic has brought to light the fact that Samoa has the lowest MMR coverage of the Pacific countries now affected by the measles.
Doctors say Samoa’s immunisation coverage is as low as 10% while Fiji and American Samoa boasts coverages of 90%.
There are currently three teams in Samoa’s Expanded Program for Immunisation (EPI). Each team has been working round the clock since the epidemic to immunise children as well as adults in efforts to contain the outbreak.
Samoa declared a State of Emergency for the measles outbreak on Friday night, after the announcement of Mr Peters Office was made.
It is unclear if the Samoa Government have requested further assistance from New Zealand given the move to proclaim a state of emergency.