It's official. Vaccination now mandatory

Immunisation is now mandatory in Samoa.

It follows the passing of the Infants Amendment Bill (No.2) 2019 on Tuesday, tabled and passed in Parliament under a note of urgency from the Head of State.

Described as the bill of “love” by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, the law becomes effective on the 1st of January 2020 where every child in Samoa will have to be vaccinated.

Failure to do so could attract a fine of up to $10,000. 

The law is in response to the measles crisis which has already killed 76 people, with more cases being hospitalised and diagnosed on a daily basis.

“In response to the measles outbreak in Samoa in the latter half of 2019, the Government has decided to have their concerns addressed in and by the highest decision making authority of the land - Parliament," the bill's memorandum reads.

“This is by amending laws to respond to and contribute to the efforts to combat the infectious disease, with the hope it will not touch the shores of Samoa again."

The Infants Amendment Bill (No.2) 2019 demands that a certified copy of a complete, vaccination and immunisation record of a child from birth is now a prerequisite for school enrolment. 

Failure to provide this means the child cannot be accepted in a school (primary or secondary).

“A parent or carer who willfully or recklessly provides false information in lieu of a certified copy of a complete, vaccination and immunisation record of a child from birth, is liable to a fine up to $10,000. 

“A Principal, who accepts a child for enrolment without the fulfilment of the prerequisite of a certified copy of a complete, vaccination and immunisation record of a child from birth, is liable to a fine up to $10,000.

Also, all schools, whether government, church, private or village, early childhood education centres must have vaccination policies that complies with the Ministry of Health requirements. 

"For those schools which have registered under the Education Act 2009 before the commencement of this Act, they have six months to produce a policy. 

Failure to do so, may be a ground for de-registration.” 

Several other amendments were made with different respective acts such as the Village Fono and Internal Affairs Act 1995. 

The Village Council to develop health related policies, including vaccination and immunisation policies as amended under the Village Fono Act. 

As of 1 January 2020, it will be the duty of the Sui o le Nu’u or Sui o le Malo, to require the vaccination and immunisation of children born in respect of his village, pursuant to the requirements of the Ministry of Healthand to develop a system to monitor and ensure this is carried out.

“Also under the law the  include as a duty of the Sui Tamaita’i o le Nu’u to, as of 1 January 2020, require the vaccination and immunisation of children born in respect of the members of her village, pursuant to the requirements of the Ministry of Healthand to develop a system to monitor and ensure this is carried out.” 

During his speech in Parliament, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi pointed out that while others religious beliefs and personal beliefs against vaccination but that their view however when it puts the nation at risk Parliament has to step in. 

“The government must act to eliminate the measles and this law will cover all the children that have not been vaccinated, when in affect next month.” 

He said parents make it a priority to take their children to school and making this a requirement will assure that everyone is vaccinated. 

“There is a 16,000 to 20,000 unvaccinated people and for a small country like ours this is huge figure, hence the need for Parliament to approve this law.” 

However M.P. Olo Fiti Vaai noted that not all the young children of Samoa are enrolled in school and its evident with the number of street vendors who continue to sell on the streets. 

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