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Saleapaga residents keen to remain measles-free

The increase in the number of suspected measles cases in Samoa is forcing a lot of villagers to organise their own transport to travel to the nearest hospital for vaccination.

Some of these villagers were from Saleapaga village, who said their village is yet to have a recorded case of measles, but they did not want to take things for granted and are mobilising their resources to take their children for vaccination. 

For 69-year-old grandfather Utaulu Konelio, he said he and his wife Tufosa have yet to hear of cases in their village but they continue to worry about the risk of infection. 

"As parents, we're always worried for the safety of our children and we now have no problems with the vaccinations all we're worried about is our children from measles," said Mr. Konelio.

To address the growing concerns amongst the families, the villagers decided to use a big truck to transport everyone to the Lalomanu hospital recently for vaccination.

Mr. Konelio said other villagers are doing the same, using their own resources to get to the nearest health facility. 

Over a week ago, the Lalomanu District Hospital ran out of vaccines for about a week, which left a lot of Saleapaga residents disappointed and frustrated.

Forty-seven-year old villager, Taumaoe Ulalio, said it is good to see parents becoming proactive at this advance stage of the epidemic by taking their children in for vaccination, but the vaccines shortage is a letdown by the authorities. 

"Seeing so many parents on this side go back to the hospital, after being persistent to have their children vaccinated, was interesting. But hearing that they (hospital) run out of injections is a bit disappointing," he said.

Ministry of Health (MOH) Director General, Leausa Take Naseri, told Radio New Zealand in an interview last week that the problem lies with health staff not ordering enough supplies in advance to ensure they do not run out. 

"The only vaccine that’s not available I’m sure of was the MMR specifically ordered for adults who are going on a seasonal working schemes to New Zealand, just in case we add more burden to what’s happening in New Zealand," he said.

Saleapaga residents said they are looking forward to improving and ensuring their community remains free of the virus during the epidemic.

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