Vaccine expert urges parents to be cautious

A vaccinologist has raised concerns regarding parents who refuse to take their children for their immunisation shots.   

Dr. Helen Aspasia Petousis-Harris, a vaccinologist for the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety, is reminding parents the importance of vaccination in saving children’s lives.     

Earlier this month, two toddlers from Savaii died after getting the measles mumps and rubella (M.M.R.) vaccine. 

The Government launched a full inquiry, and W.H.O. officials and specialised pathologists conducted the post-mortem examinations. 

“As a parent, I completely understand why people are now hesitant to have their children immunised,” said Dr. Petousis-Harris.

“When you hand your precious child to a health professional for a procedure like an immunization, you are placing your trust in them. When a terrible event like this happens, trust can be lost.”

She said W.H.O. and other agencies are assisting in investigating the case in order to fully understand what happened. 

“Until we know exactly what happened, parents need to be wary of rumours, there are many circulating about this event and most are not true.” 

 “Many times in the past we have seen what can happen when people lose trust in vaccines because of real or perceived concerns about safety.” 

Dr. Petousis-Harris warns not taking your children for their immunization can trigger diseases. 

“Right now there are measles outbreaks in Europe and children have died because people lost trust in the vaccine.” 

“We do not want to see a resurgence of measles in the Pacific, we have almost eliminated it.”

 “The events in Samoa are tragic and experts are working hard to determine the cause of this tragedy.”  

“We do know that many thousands of doses of the same vaccine batch have been administered safely.” 

“If people choose not to immunise their children, the very real risks associated with these vaccine preventable diseases can become more common,” said Dr. Petousis-Harris. 

As reported earlier, the Vaccinologist assured the batch allocated for Samoa has been used in other countries without a problem. 

The New Zealand-based doctor said the vaccine was used for many years in other parts of the world without adverse effects.

“In fact most children in the world receive a variation of these vaccines. We have a vast amount of data about their safety that includes millions of people,” Dr. Petousis-Harris said.

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