MMR vaccinations in Samoa to launch 15 April after Safety Assurances 

The CEO of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Toleafoa Naseri and WHO’s Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr. Takeshi Kasai in a joint press conference in Apia today. 

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 2 APRIL 2019: MMR vaccinations for one year old children in Samoa will commence 15 April after assurances today of the vaccine’s safety.

In a joint press conference between the CEO of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Toleafoa Naseri and the Regional Director for the Western Pacific of the World Health Organisation, Dr. Takeshi Kasai, they assured the Samoan parents of the vaccines safety and that the MMR vaccinations will commence later this month.

Leausa said the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine is 100 % safe. He also said that from all investigations, it was a human error that cost the life of two young children at the Safotu District Hospital last year and resulted in the suspension of the MMR vaccinations from July 2018 to this date.

Ahead of the commencement of the vaccinations, the Ministry is training its staff and health carers on the administration of the vaccination.

“We have a lot of catching up to do to win back the confidence of the people,” said Leausa.

Dr. Kasai said when such incidents occur, WHO encourage Government to take proper actions and Samoa immediately suspended the immunisations as investigations were launched and his office treated the matter a priority to support the Government in the process.

“I encourage  the Government to restart this measles vaccination knowing that they have gone through a vigorous investigation and the process to restart, and I am happy that the Ministry is already in that stage, as I want to see a start as early as possible,” said Dr. Kasai.

He was also concerned about the current and ongoing increase and outbreak of measles around the world.

He said the Philippines is now experiencing a huge outbreak, followed by China, Vietnam, New Zealand and some cases in Australia

“Measles is a very infectious disease, very contagious and it kills children, and vaccination is one of the most important interventions in public health. It is safe and effective protection not only for the children but also the community,” said Dr. Kasai.

For the MMR vaccination Leausa said it will be done by consent only, as the Ministry cannot force parents to have their children immunized, but the door is always open for them if they changed their minds later.

All children who missed out on being vaccinated since the suspension of MMR will be included once the immunisation is relaunched.

The WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr. Takeshi Kasai and the Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Talalelei Tuitama