Samoa Must Declare a State of Health Emergency for Urgent Nation-Wide Measles Immunization

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Samoa’s immunization rate before the outbreak was as low as 10% and 75,000 children need to be immunized according to public health medical practitioners.

Speaking to Samoa Global News on condition of not being named, a senior medical practitioner in Samoa says the death toll is now at 14 and things will only get worse if a mass vaccination programme across the nation is not immediately implemented as a matter of urgent action.

“This epidemic is now out of control. There is now sharing of beds in paeds ward of children from same family. Some kids were immunized in hospital last week. They probably got it from coming to be immunized here;

“I haven’t seen anything like this in my lifetime of working for 30 years;

“We must do a mass vaccination, now but we must go out to do it;

“The Government release says we had 40 percent immunization rate before the outbreak but our hospital public health doctors say our coverage was less than 10% before the outbreak. No wonder there are hundreds sick and so many deaths”.

“Only a mass vaccination will help. There are 75,000 kids needing it”.

Another senior medical practitioner says Samoa must declare a State of Health Emergency adding that the crisis has not yet peaked, and we still keep running out of vaccines.

“We had run out of vaccines earlier in the week. Get the vaccine. Mass immunize our kids. Stop all work for a few days and we all go out and vaccinate.”

“MoH must go out and vaccinate in all places – churches, villages, wherever. Mobilize all that we have. Nothing else will work 😪.”

The senior medical doctors say that there is under-reporting of measles cases because many are also being seen by private doctors. They added that the term “suspected” should no longer be used.

“It’s a clinical diagnosis and every doctor can diagnose without sending a blood sample.”

Outside the ICU in the early hours of this morning Samoa Global News were able to speak to family members waiting their turn to go inside and relieve others on duty.

Two sisters who were there to attend to their 58 year old brother who does not have a measles related illness said they had been transferred to ICU yesterday afternoon when a bed became available. They are concerned, however, that their brother is in ICU with measles related cases.

The car park was full as off duty caretakers take a nap in their cars.

“Our brother is not doing too good. It’s his heart. We were supposed to come to ICU earlier but there were no beds”.

“When a young child died of the measles, then a bed became available”.

Outside the Intensive Care Unit in the early hours of this morning, family members of those fighting for their lives inside the ICU made beds on the floor, as Samoans do when loved ones are in hospital.

One grandmother was on kausimai duties inside the ICU with her 1-year-old grandson fighting for his life and hooked up to a ventilator while her daughter, husband and 3-year-old get some rest on the floor outside.

A father, his pregnant wife and 3 year old daughter are fast asleep outside ICU as Grandma takes her turn inside with baby.

Samoa’s Intesive Care Unit has only seven beds. Early hours of this morning, five children were being cared in ICU with three babies hooked up to ventilators fighting for their lives.

Australia and New Zealand have already responded with vaccines, equipment and medical staff.  Another medical team from New Zealand was despatched earlier this week and Australia are setting up a mobile ICU that should be ready by the weekend.


Sina Retzlaff