By Rula Su’a – Vaai
APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 17 JULY 2018: Samples taken from the two toddlers who died within minutes of receiving their MMR vaccinations at the Safotu Hospital 6 July, have been taken overseas for analysis.
The analysis is expected to take about a week before the inquest on 25 July.
The post mortem was conducted at the Moto’otua National Hospital, 12 July 2018 by a pathologist from Australia.
The investigation in Samoa
In a statement, the Director General of Health, Leausa Toleafoa Dr. Take Naseri said the Ministry of Health (MoH) of Samoa is conducting a comprehensive and transparent Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) investigation. The investigation teams among other things will be looking at the vaccine, diluent, injecting equipment (including whether there was any contamination of the vial, diluent, syringes or needles), cold chain monitoring, vaccine administration practices, the training given to vaccinators as well as the past medical and family history of the infants.
“We are also reviewing the processes of implementation especially emergency responses, resuscitation drugs & storage, best practices guidelines, early signs and symptoms for detection of vaccine-related adverse effects.”
MoH is collaborating with WHO and is working closely with UNICEF to provide technical support to the Government of Samoa’s investigation. At the request of the MoH, WHO has mobilised an immunisation expert from WPRO to assist with the AEFI investigation, and a Forensic Pathology team from Melbourne, Australia, to support the Government in the forensic work that will contribute to the evaluation of the deaths.
The Director General is also wary of the negative impact the incident may have had on the parents and public confidence in the immunization and the reaction of the anti-vaccination movement.
“The health of our children relies on trust in national immunization program, and your efforts to maintain confidence in the safety of vaccines are critical,” said Leausa.