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American Samoa is ramping up its immunisation efforts, as the territory braces itself for the possibility of a measles outbreak.
On Thursday, Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga declared a public heath emergency meaning all travellers from Tonga and Samoa must show proof of MMR vaccination or immunity.
Although two health community centres at Leone and Amouli have been closed due to a nursing shortage, the Tafuna Community Health Center's hours have been extended and a local baby clinic is also administering shots.
The Department of Health's Aifili Dr John Tufa said immunisation was the best protection and was needed to keep the measles at bay.
“We are not in an outbreak situation until we do have our first case locally.
“The cases we are dealing with are travel associated and we are doing our best to contain it at this point. Measles is the most infectious disease known to man, it spreads very fast, so we are bracing ourselves. The best way for us to contain this is immunisation.”
Samoa's inter-island shipping service to and from American Samoa has been cancelled because of the territory's public health emergency declaration surrounding measles.
The declaration means all travellers from Samoa to American Samoa must carry proof of immunisation before entering the territory
The weekly voyage by the Lady Naomi was stopped on Thursday after the shipping corporation issued a statement saying that due to the declaration from the American Samoa government the service was postponed.
There are currently two suspected cases of measles in the territory.
The two are children under five from Samoa who arrived on the Lady Naomi on 31 October.
Neither had been immunised.
In neighbouring Samoa, there have been 628 suspected cases and at least seven deaths suspected to be related to the disease.
SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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