Children's names a major issue: Health chief

One of the main problems facing the Ministry of Health in issuing immunisation cards is that names being used by parents to enrol children in school are different from the records held by the hospital.

The Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, revealed in an interview that the name difference on the official records is a major hurdle for M.O.H. staff. 

Earlier this month, parents across Upolu and Savai’i flocked to the National Hospital at Moto'otua to obtain confirmation of immunisation. 

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Leausa said the discrepancy in name records has been a challenge verifying.

“They have a different name and surname used in school and a different one on the records at the hospital,” he explained. “Others don’t have any records at the hospital but the mother is certain [they got immunised]. 

“We have put in place a policy and guidelines to address this because children must get their injection.”   

Since the measles epidemic last year that killed more than 80 people, mostly children, Parliament passed the Infant Amendment Act 2019 making it mandatory to vaccinate every child. 

Children who do not have proof of being immunised are turned away and will only be enrolled if they present immunisation records. 

The law stipulates that a parent is liable to pay a fine of up to $10,000 if they provide false information in lieu of a certified copy of a complete vaccination record of a child from birth. 

The Government carried out a mass, national vaccination programme at the end of 2019 to prevent further outbreaks of the disease.

Asked about the records from the mass vaccination, Leausa said the Ministry has all the records from the vaccination drive, unless they were not kept properly.  

Furthermore, the Director General pointed out that there is a law in place now and parents should comply.  

In the absence of solid proof that a child has been immunised and the child's mother is uncertain if her child was immunised, Leausa said that the child would then be vaccinated, whereas if a mother is definitely sure her child has been vaccinated, then she signs a form and the responsibility is on her.

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