The Ministry of Health shares the same concerns as the Commission of Inquiry regarding the suspension of immunisation programme by the National Health Services for a protracted and unspecified time.
Tagaloa Dr. Robert Thompson made this statement during the Ministry of Health’s submission to the Commission yesterday.
“The M.M.R. vaccines specifically and the Ministry also noted as a concern this part, however we are more concerned about the other vaccines which are administered at an earlier age of the child,” said Tagaloa.
He informed the Commission that the concern was raised by the Pediatric Unit regarding infants being admitted in hospital for pertussis.
“Our major concern is not really with the M.M.R. infections but more towards the other infections and as of Friday last week, I received notification from the Pediatric Unit raising concern with pertussis, as they start to see a number of young infants less than 10 months old coming in with pertussis."
“Pertussis is another virus that is prevented through immunisation. It is a disease that has no cure and, it’s part of the E.P.I. programme and that is where the greater concern for the Ministry comes in."
“The disease is also known as ‘whooping cough’ and it is mainly known to the people of Samoa as (kale vivigi). It is a highly contagious respiratory disease and it is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis."
“It is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing, which often makes it hard to breathe.”
Tuiloma then asked the Ministry of Health on what recommendations they come up with to resolve this issue.
“Our recommendation is to restart the E.P.I. programme overall and we are looking at restarting the M.M.R. vaccine together with the E.P.I. programme overall,” Tagaloa responded.
“We recommend to maybe bring in new batches for the M.M.R. vaccines and not to use the patch that we have at the moment until the process is complete."
“The Ministry is also in discussion on how to regain the public trust back to the M.M.R. vaccine and the E.P.I. Programme overall."
“But definitely we need to restart the E.P.I. Programme overall and look at the specific M.M.R. vaccines and to start that as soon as possible.”