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Government reports extraordinary immunisation rise

The Government is claiming that an extraordinary 89 per cent of Samoa's total population is now immunised against measles after a two-day door to door campaign capped off a three week effort to inoculate the population en masse.

The national coverage now is at 89%," said Ulu Bismarck Crowley, the Chairman of the Disaster Advisory Committee in a statement released early on Saturday evening. 

The new data suggests that Samoa has made a massive gain in its vaccination coverage, which was until recently estimated by U.N.I.C.E.F. to fall between 28 to 40 per cent. It still leaves the country short of the level said to provide "herd immunity" against outbreaks: 95 per cent. 

This is an uplift from the rates that had been previously recorded when the outbreak started so the unified effort has resulted in a massive increase of coverage," Ulu said. 

Ulu said the most vulnerable age group, children six months to four years old are now covered at 82 per cent, while children five to 19 years are at 93 per cent.

There are still vaccination teams attending a 999 line and families can still request vaccination teams if they have not been administered to yet, and some hard to reach villages are still on the list for vaccination, Ulu said.

"We have got teams still attending to calls from isolated areas that the mass program was not able to reach, and this effort will continue with the headquarters able to receive phone calls on the free calling line from 8 to 5pm every day," Ulu said. 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi was quoted in the Thursday edition of the state-owned newspaper, Savali, as saying he believed that 90 per cent was the minimum acceptable level for the country to achieve:

"the Prime Minister says he will not settle for anything less than 90% not just for the children but across the board," the newspaper reported.

The World Health Organisation states 95 per cent is the ideal "herd immunity" coverage rate, which is the only safe level capable of preventing fatal outbreaks like the one Samoa has been experiencing.

The new increase appears to put Samoa over the global average. 

According to a World Health Organisation survey the global average for children receiving at least the first dose of the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine now stands at 86 per cent.

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