Six thousand vaccinated in Savai'i

Savaii’s hospitals are running out of measles vaccines after immunising around 6000 people this month alone, Associate Minister of Health Tofa Li’o Foleni has revealed. 

To date, Samoa has 48 confirmed cases and 513 suspected cases of measles according to the Ministry of Health's report from the 4th of November.

Speaking from Savai'i, Tofa said he sat with the Savaii Hospital management teams from Tuasivi, Safotu and Satupa'itea to assess the situation they face.

According to the nurses there, the vaccine supply in Tuasivi has rapidly diminished since new supply arrived at the beginning of the month and they are awaiting 2000 more doses to arrive from Apia.

“The nurses told me today (Tuesday) they have [vaccinated] about 6000 people here on Savaii,” Tofa said.

“That’s including adults and children.”

What’s more, Safotu Hospital’s vaccine fridge is still broken, which is essential for storing the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

“Yes, that’s the problem. Safotu has no cold fridge,” Tofa said.

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“They are trying to fix that. They are hiring the people responsible for the repair work.”

To help address the growing epidemic (cases of measles have near doubled each week since the Government announced an outbreak), Samoa has asked for international help.

On Friday five Australian Medical Assistant Team members arrived for a two-week stint, and spent their first few days touring Savaii hospitals to assess their resource needs.

The Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development has joined forces with M.O.H to get into villages and help coordinate the vaccination and public awareness raising efforts. 

Tofa said Health Minister Faimalotoa Kika Stowers-Ah Kau has also asked New Zealand and India for support. 

“We are trying our best to prevent the disease,” he said.

“Our Ministry is doing their best.”

The health services intend to meet on Thursday for a day long forum at Moto’otua Hospital, which is supposed to be open. 

“I think it’s a good idea for you to attend the forum,” Tofa told the Samoa Observer. 

Tofa is the first Ministry of Health official to respond to an interview request by this newspaper for nearly two weeks. 

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