Rural families welcome vaccination outreach

Families in the remote villages of Satapuala and Faleolo, more than 37 kilometres from the centre of Apia, have hailed the recent door-to-door mass vaccination initiative for reaching families who otherwise would never have been immunised. 

In an effort to bring a decisive end to the measles epidemic that has been spreading through Samoa since mid-October, the Government and businesses were shut down on Thursday the 4th and Friday the 5th of December. 

More than 40,000 people were vaccinated within that two-day period, according to Government statistics. In an update on Friday the Government touted the success of its "unprecedented" mass vaccination campaign that has immunised 93 per cent of "eligible people".

Families with several members acknowledged that were it not for the Government initiative and the people involved in the mass vaccination campaign, they would never have received protection from the potentially deadly virus. 

A family in Satapuala were among those with red flags on their front yards and had three of their children vaccinated during the door-to-door campaign. 

In an interview with Samoa Observer, the father of the family, Matagiolo Telefoni, said it was a perfect get away from the crowded places in town which he feared for his family's health and the potential to contract the virus the most.

After almost losing two of his grandchildren from measles, the 68-year-old thought twice about bringing his other grandchildren out of his house to receive their vaccinations - a move he believes caused his two grandchildren's infections. 

"We brought them to the hospital for vaccination but the other one was vaccinated from one of the vaccination booths around here and I believe that's where they contracted the measles from," he said.

But thanks to the vaccination campaign the rest of his grandchildren entire family was safely immunised.

Because of this, Mr. Telefoni said thank you to the government and everyone who have participated in the mass vaccination campaign that eased his worries.

He has more than five grandchildren and more than five children altogether living in the same home.

Similar to Mr. Telefoni's story, two families in Faleolo also benefited from the campaign.

47-year-old mother, Epenesa Matamu, said her worries were also eased when the campaign reached their home in Faleolo.

"We were trying to ignore going to the hospital with the situation it's in right now so we just stayed home and be safe but when we heard of the campaign, we were looking forward to it," she said.

Three of her children were also vaccinated during the door-to-door campaign.

For a family of four in Faleolo, money and transportation was a major challenge to seeking out vaccinations so they decided to stay home.

According to Ualesi Faatoese, though they could afford to scrimp together he and his wife's bus-fare, he thinks his children needed more money to go to town.

"We though that it would be safe to just stay home and we were actually hoping something like this would happen but now that it happened, we're really grateful," he said.

According to Mr. Faatoese, the majority of the families in his village were facing the same obstacles and expressed similar gratitutde. 

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