The Ministry of Health has stopped the vaccination of infants against measles, mumps and rubella (M.M.R.) as investigations get underway into the deaths of two toddlers in Savaii.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi expressed sympathy and sent his condolences to the parents and families of the two young babies in a statement issued last night.
“I have not been fully briefed concerning the circumstances leading up to the death of the two innocent young children who passed away reportedly after the young boy and girl were administered vaccination injections at a District Hospital in Savai’i last Friday. But it will not detain me from reiterating a message of sympathy and condolences to the parents and families,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, says the notice to stop M.M.R. vaccinations is applicable to all health facilities in Upolu and Savaii. The families of the dead toddlers have filed criminal complaints against the clinics in Savaii with the C.E.O. saying he is aware of police investigations.
“We are also concerned for the safety of our workers especially the nurses who were involved because now the fingers are all pointing to the nurses. But if you read in the events, there were more nurses involved because they were doing the supervision as well as the preparation. So this is from the initial reports when this happened we were also told that the nurse was quite confident that the vaccine was okay so that’s where we are right now,” he said.
“The two toddlers died as the result of vaccination at Safotu, one of our health sectors in Savaii. We were informed on Friday afternoon of the sad news and we had to send people there to do their investigation. Apparently, we were also informed by the police because the family members have taken their views to the police department for their investigation.
This is out of our control and it’s everyone’s right if they feel that there is something not right, if it’s something that warrants a police investigation then we cannot stop them.”
The Ministry of Health was advised of the deaths last Friday afternoon with Leausa indicating that they were also doing their own investigations. The nurses who administered the vaccines have been taken for counselling and removed from the Safotu District Hospital for their own safety.
The police confirmed the incident in a statement yesterday and said no criminal charges were filed. According to the police they were advised at 8.21 am last Friday of the death of two young babies aged one after receiving their M.M.R. injection. Their investigations are continuing and the matter has also been referred to the coroner.