This weekend, Samoa urgently declared an emergency and closed off all schools while limiting the public gatherings. The move came after multiple deaths that were linked to an outbreak of measles that had been slowly spreading across the islands in the Pacific. Samoa is an island state comprised of mere 200,000 fragments of land located towards the southern half of the Earth’s equator. It is halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii.
Late in the month of October, the state declared the measles epidemic after the initial deaths from the disease were reported. Following this, a minimum of 6 deaths of mostly infants below 2-years of age has actually been linked with this outbreak. This information was confirmed by the local health ministry in a statement provided last week. From a total of 716 suspected measles cases, around 40 percent required complete hospitalization.
In its statement, the Samoan government stated that given the urgent need, any public member who hasn’t yet been vaccinated would have to adhere to the mandatory requirement for being vaccinated against measles. In Samoa, around 2/3rd of the existing population has only been immunized, as per the Samoan Health Ministry.
Leausa Take Naseri, the Director-General of Health in Samoa, mentioned that the way things have been going on with poor coverage of immunization, the worst can surely be anticipated for the future. He also mentioned that the kids who died from measles had not received their vaccination.
On Friday, Winston Peters, the Foreign Minister of New Zealand, mentioned that his country is prepared to send around 3000 vaccines along with 12 nurses that will assist the outbreaks in Samoa. Apart from this, Peters also added that measles could be highly contagious. The outbreak of measles has successfully taken several lives in the country. So, it is beneficial for everyone to work together in order to stop the spread.
The reported cases of measles have been rising on a global level, which also includes wealthy nations like Germany or the United States. These places have been affected due to the fact that some parents prefer to shun immunization citing religious or philosophical reasons. Some even cite reasons that have already been debunked by the scientific community. A good example of such myths includes vaccination causing autism for the children. With time, due to lack of immunization, the disease can spread far and wide.