22 Nov 2019

Measles: Samoa warns against anti-vaxxers

11:43 am on 22 November 2019
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Photo: RNZ Pacific / Jenny Meyer

Samoa's government is warning those trying to discourage people from getting measles vaccinations to stop immediately.

The country is under a state of emergency as it tries to contain the epidemic, which has so far killed at least 16 people.

Under the state of emergency, a compulsory vaccination programme is underway.

In a statement, the government said that under the emergency declaration it is illegal to discourage or prevent people from getting immunised.

"All state of emergency orders ... are legally binding on the community," it said. "The specific order therefore to vaccinate is compulsory, and is to be complied with."

"Any person that actively discourages or prevents in any way members of the community from receiving their vaccination injection, is hereby warned, to cease immediately, and is similarly warned not to take any further action of that kind," it said.

Before the epidemic, measles immunity in Samoa was as low as 31 percent.

Meanwhile, bingo games have been banned in Samoa as the country tries to contain the spread of measles.

The gambling authority said licenced games had been suspended until the state of emergency was lifted.

Schools and other gatherings have already been ordered closed.

The mormon church has suspended all gatherings, while the seventh day adventist church has called off all youth gatherings until further notice.