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The Government of Samoa will close all its services for two days this week to allow all public servants to assist with the measles vaccination campaign throughout the country.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi declared Thursday and Friday this week closed except for the water and electricity workers.
“In this time of crisis, and the cruel reality of the measles epidemic, let us reflect on how we can avoid recurrence in the future. I extend to all the families that have lost loved ones and the children of Samoa, our condolences and sympathies. Our prayers are also extended to those affected for speedy recoveries.
“I would again call on everyone’s cooperation to protect our children; seek medical care for sick children early, ensure family members especially children are vaccinated and maintain good hygiene standards in all environments, said PM Tuilaepa in an address to the nation Monday.
From 20 November to 02 December, 58,000 people have been vaccinated across the island and 53 people, mostly children under four years old have died from measles.
The Samoan head of government emphasised the need to seek medical help immediately if symptoms are seen, especially in children. He said vaccination is the only cure.
“If affected cases are presented early for treatment, full recovery should be expected. No traditional healers or kangen water preparations can cure measles. It is a fact that those who have died have never had vaccinations. Because measles has complications such as pneumonia, it is critical for parents to present sick children early to doctors for care.
“Measles is highly contagious and may spread over borders through travel such as was the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918. No one should travel if they feel unwell, said PM Tuilaepa.
He urged the nation to stand together to fight the measles crisis.
“It is critical that we stand together on ways to address the crisis. The Government needs the support of all village councils, faith based organisations and church leaders, village mayors and Government women representatives and all organisations engaged in outreach programmes.
“Let us work together to encourage and convince those that do not believe that vaccinations are the only answer to the epidemic. Let us not be distracted by the promise of alternative cures. Measles is not a new disease to Samoa and rarely claimed lives.
He also acknowledged the great support of the international community.
“Since the declaration of the state of emergency, we have received medical teams from Australia, New Zealand and NZ Red Cross, France, United Kingdom. Pacific Medical Association, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, China, Norway, Japan, United Nations and the United States. More are on their way.
“We are also receiving logistical support from American Samoa and our community of Non-Governmental Organisations such as ADRA, Red Cross, Caritas, Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, communities, individuals and private sector.
The Samoan Government’s response has been to vaccinate all children attending school at all levels, priority vaccinations for those between 6 month- 4 years who have not had prior vaccinations and women in the childbearing age group of 20-39 years, early closure of schools and tertiary institutions, and banning children from attending public gatherings or places where large numbers of people congregate.
The mass campaign over the coming days will open up the opportunity for all who have not been vaccinated up to 60 years of age to do so.
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