Expectant women fearful of epidemic

The measles epidemic in Samoa is striking fear into the hearts of expecting mothers and forcing them to stay at home.

Pregnant women are among a small group of demographics the Ministry of Health recommends does not receive the vaccine, making some worried about their health and that of their unborn children. 

Four mothers, in various stages of their pregnancy, told the Samoa Observer of their fears for their unborn children and were given a caution by hospital staff for them to keep away from hospitals to avoid the risk of infection.

Tiaoalii Moananu, 20, of Faleatiu said she is now seeing avoiding the hospital.

"I only go to the hospital every four weeks for my appointments as usual but whenever I feel something," she said.

Mother of three Vaiola Fagaseu, who is expecting her fourth child, said she did not go to the hospital until Tuesday when she experienced pain that lasted longer than usual.

"Even my children, when measles was warned in Samoa, I forbid them from going outside of our own yard," she said. 

"Because we pregnant women cannot be vaccinated for measles, we have to be extra careful with our condition so I'm just hoping and waiting for measles to be free from Samoa so I can lessen my worries.”

On Monday, a queue of pregnant mothers was noticeable at the National Hospital, with all of them wearing masks as they stood in line waiting to be called. 

One of the expecting mothers, from Vaiusu, 38-year-old Togipa Faasa'o, told this newspaper that her four-year-old daughter had measles and had to be separated from her. 

The separation from her daughter has been hard, but she said she had to be cautious and focus on having a safe delivery.

Folasia Lameko, who is a single mother and was with her mother at the hospital on Monday, said it was her first pregnancy and she was warned by doctors during an antenatal visit that getting measles could be dangerous for her unborn child.

"What I do is I exercise in my front yard and go back inside and avoid the flu and do everything told by the doctor so I would deliver a healthy baby in a few months," she said.


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