Principals, parents given vaccine warning
The Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, has warned parents and Principals nationwide that all students trying to enroll this year without proof of vaccination will be refused.
The warning comes two weeks prior to the beginning of the new school year on January 27.
In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Loau said the Government has zero tolerance policy for any wrongdoing since the passage of the law on vaccinations.
“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 criterion for school enrolment, otherwise your child will not be allowed to attend school," the Minister warned.
"Parents: immunise your children, if not face the penalty of $10,000."
The law was passed in Parliament under a note of urgency from the Head of State last month. It took effect on the first day of the new year.
The law was passed in response to the measles crisis which has so-far claimed a total of 83 lives.
“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."
Loau further referenced the memorandum of the bill when submitted in Parliament, all schools - whether Government, church, early childhood, private or village - must have vaccination policies that comply with the new 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," he said.
"Failure to do so, may be a ground for de-registration. And I will not hesitate to de-register any schools if they do not comply with the law. Remember this is not a policy it is the law."
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 their village, pursuant to the requirements of the Ministry of Health, and to develop systems for monitoring vaccination rates.