50 Children Dead from Measles Outbreak in Samoa 
50 Children Dead from Measles Outbreak in Samoa 

50 Children Dead from Measles Outbreak in Samoa 

The public health emergency has spurred a mass vaccination campaign.

Dec 2, 2019
Emily Makowski

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Ameasles outbreak in Samoa has killed 53 people since late October, including 50 children, the Samoan government reported today (December 2). 

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has announced a government shutdown from December 5–6 in order to allow all government workers to assist with a mass vaccination campaign, according to a state address on Sunday (December 1). In addition, all Samoan schools have been shut down, and children are barred from public gatherings, according to the Associated Press.

The Samoan government has mandated that all 200,000 residents get vaccinated against the disease, which is believed to have spread from an infected visitor from New Zealand. About 31 percent of the population was vaccinated before the outbreak, and another 58,000 people have received the vaccine since the government declared a national emergency on November 20. But infection rates and deaths are still increasing as the virus spreads. So far, 3,700 measles cases have been reported countrywide, according to Reuters.

The number of measles infections has increased worldwide due to global travel and misinformation about vaccine safety, reports The Washington Post. In Samoa, two babies died last year from incorrectly mixed vaccinations, adding to vaccine fears, according to the Post.

“Let us work together to encourage and convince those that do not believe that vaccinations are the only answer to the epidemic,” Malielegaoi said in Sunday’s state address. “Let us not be distracted by the promise of alternative cures.”

Emily Makowski is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at emakowski@the-scientist.com.