A coronial inquest will be done on July 25 into the deaths of two toddlers from Safotu, the Ministry of Police has announced.
“On 12th July, a post-mortem examination was conducted at Moto’otua Hospital for the two babies from Safotu, Savaii. The post-mortem examination was conducted by a pathologist from Australia. Further inquiries with samples obtained from the two babies have been taken overseas for analysis,” stated the statement.
Last week Friday, the mother of one of the deceased babies named Punipuao, said the bodies of the babies were transferred to Moto’otua Hospital for post-mortem. When Attorney General Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff was contacted at that time for comment, he said the incident is now a Ministry of Police matter.
The two toddlers died after they received their M.M.R (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination at Safotu District Hospital on Savai’i. The matter was then reported to the Ministry of Health last Friday, compelling the C.E.O. to call an urgent press conference.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi also issued a statement and ordered a full inquiry into the matter while passing on his sympathies to the affected families.
The announcement of a coronial inquest coincides with a statement by the New Zealand Ministry of Health, which emphasized that it was too early to determine the two babies’ cause of death, and it was working with health authorities in Samoa to assist their investigations.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health also assured parents of the safety and effectiveness of immunization, saying the M.M.R vaccine had a good safety record.
“The Ministry would like to reassure parents of the safety and effectiveness of immunisation. The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine has an excellent safety profile and has been used without any significant problem for several decades. Hundreds of thousands of children have had the vaccine in the Pacific without issue, and millions more in New Zealand and worldwide,” stated the ministry in a statement.
“Deaths following M.M.R vaccination are exceptionally rare, and similar events overseas have been a result of administration errors rather than a problem with the vaccine itself.”