The Ministry of Health did not suspend the Expanded Programme of Immunization (E.P.I.) programme following the deaths of two toddlers in Safotu, Savaii earlier this year.
However, Tagaloa Dr. Robert Thompson said the stop order was specifically for the Mumps, Measles and Rubella (M.M.R.) vaccines.
Tagaloa was responding to a question on the suspension posed by the Commission of Inquiry’s Chairman, Tuiloma Neroni Slade during the Ministry of Health’s submission yesterday.
The Ministry was represented by the A.C.E.O. for Nursing and Midwife of the Ministry of Health, Fuata’i Taulealo-Maiava, Rumanusina Maua, who was acting on behalf of the Director General Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, and Tagaloa.
“This stop order is for the M.M.R. to be put on hold for the time being until the case and the investigation are completed,” said Tagaloa.
“But in relation to other vaccines, the ministry did not have any stop order on this. We advise that the other vaccination still continue, especially the vaccinations relating to newborns.”
He added the stop order in question was issued by the National Health Service (N.H.S.) and it involves all vaccinations from the day of the incident.
“But we have already advised them to continue with the other vaccines except for the M.M.R. vaccinations.”
Tagaloa said the stop order for the M.M.R. vaccines was the direction from the ministry to be implemented nationwide and health service providers were informed.
“The M.M.R. vaccine is only administered at the age of 12 months with the doze one and 15 months the doze two and we all do catch up campaign to catch up all the children that have not received the M.M.R. vaccines now,” Tagaloa said.
“However, stopping all the other vaccines that should be administered to the child at six weeks up to six months is where the major concern of the Ministry is at this stage, so I want to clarify that the Ministry of Health issued a nationwide stop order for the M.M.R. vaccine only."
“Unfortunately at this stage, the whole immunisation programme is suspended by the National Health Services because we thought we are on the same understanding that M.M.R. vaccine is the only vaccine suspended."
“But unfortunately, the Ministry of Health only found out last week that it is not only the M.M.R. vaccine that’s being suspended but the whole E.P.I. programme that’s being suspended.”
N.H.S. General Manager, Palanitina Tupuimatagi Toelupe made an attempt to comment on the issue, but Tuiloma requested for a written submission if they wish to respond.
“We do not wish to prevent any comment or evidence coming before this Commission and we also do not wish to engage in an exchange of use beyond the formalities of this inquiry,” Tuiloma said.