2 Oct 2003

Mass measles vaccination planned in Samoa after 3 deaths

4:08 pm on 2 October 2003

Moves towards mass vaccination against a rubella outbreak in Samoa have begun following the recent deaths of three children from the disease.

The Ministry of Health has announced that up to 135-thousand people will be vacinated.

The starting date has yet to be finalised but the ministry says young people aged between 5 and 18 will be vaccinated first.

The ministry is seeking over 185-thousand US dollars in funding from the World Health Organisation and Australia to buy vaccines for the public hospital.

Meanwhile the rush by concerned parents to buy vaccine has created a shortage in pharmacies and the private hospital, MedCen.

MedCen - which has ordered 500 more doses - expect further supplies to arrive in the country at the weekend.

Meanwhile the Health Minister, Mulitalo Siafausa Vui, has responded to criticism that the ministry has moved too slowly.

He says campaigns against rubella have to be organised properly because of the nature of the vaccine.