Article by
Dani Reiter
Updated
November 27th, 2019

Samoa Confirms 33 Measles-Related Fatalities

New Zealand visitor may have brought measles to Samoa

samoa flag

The Independent State of Samoa issued an update regarding the extensive measles outbreak rapidly spreading in this Pacific Island country.

In a Tweet published late on November 26, 2019, the Samoa Ministry of Health reported 2,686 measles cases since the outbreak began in October 2019.

Furthermore, 249 additional measles cases were recorded in the last 24 hours. 

To alert the international community, the Government of Samoa officially declared a state of emergency on November 15th. 

To date, 33 measles-related fatalities have been recorded. Most of these deaths were children under 4 years of age.

Samoa has attributed the 1st case of measles to someone who traveled from New Zealand to Samoa in late August, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed to Stuff. 

In response to this serious situation, an extensive vaccination campaign was launched on November 20th. According to the Samoan government, this effort has successfully vaccinated 33,085 individuals in Samoa.

To support this vaccination effort, 7 New Zealand Red Cross health delegates are in Samoa supporting measles treatment and prevention activities.

The Kiwi health delegates are working with the Samoa Red Cross and local agencies in hospitals and vaccination clinics. 

Andrea Chapman, a Kiwi nurses, said in a statement published on November 27th  “We’re educating people that the vaccination takes 14 days until it is fully effective. Although people are being vaccinated, the measles outbreak has the potential to get worse.”

Prior to this campaign, measles vaccination coverage in Samoa was 40 percent for the 1st vaccine dose and just 28 percent for the 2nd measles vaccination.

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Measles is a highly contagious virus, measles is a disease that spreads from person to person by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. People can spread measles up to 4 days before and 4 days after they have a rash.

New Zealand Red Cross has a long history of working closely with Red Cross National Societies in the Pacific through capacity building, knowledge sharing, pre-positioning of relief items and disaster response activities.

Samoa is a country consisting of two main islands, Savai'i and Upolu, and has a population of 190,000 residents. Samoa is located south of the equator, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean.

American Samoa is a separate territory of the United States, located southeast of the Samoan Islands.

Previously, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its vaccination suggestions when visiting Samoa to include the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella, and the annual flu shot. 

Furthermore, the CDC suggested Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, and Typhoid vaccinations for certain Samoa visitors on August 2, 2019.

And, Samoa is included in the CDC’s global measles Travel Alert.

The CDC says any vaccine can cause a side effect, which should be reported to a healthcare provider asap.

Measles news published by Vax-Before-Travel.