New Typhoid Fever vaccine roll out

The Ministry of Health is rolling out a mass vaccination campaign against Typhoid Fever at schools across Upolu.

Principals, teachers and parents of students at all different schools were recently sent letters informing them of the need for the programme and the disease’s ill-effects.

On Tuesday, the Samoa Observer visited the immunisation programme as it made its way through Maluafou College as the entire school was receiving its shots. 

The vaccination programme began last week targeting  pre-schools and primary schools.

But this week the Ministry’s focus moved to colleges following the completion of last week’s high school athletic competition.

The Ministry’s letter explains the roll out makes use of a new vaccine variant - known as Typbar-TCV. Developed in India, the vaccine has been developed by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech. It has shown to have a greater than 80 per cent efficacy rate in preventing typhoid fever.

It has been developed for patients aged between 1 and 45; only people between those ages can get access to the vaccine.

The Child Amendment Act (2019) says that the vaccine is now part of the Ministry of Health’s standard package for immunising children.

In an interview with Reverend Falaniko Sio, the Vice Principal of Maluafou College he said that the college gave total support to the Ministry and its vaccination programme. 

“We understand completely that we are in unstable conditions with lots of diseases that affect us and we are lucky that we still have time to prepare ourselves for all these challenges,” Rev Sio said.

“We have sent out the letter to all the parents of each student to sign that they agree to have a vaccine for their children and to make sure there will be no misunderstanding in the end.” 

The school’s student population is nearly 1000 pupils. Only a handful of four or five children are ineligible to receive the vaccine due to pre-existing medical conditions.

“We used the whole of today to vaccinate all the children including us teachers to show our support and appreciation for the hard work that has been done by doctors and nurses and the Ministry of Health for our people,” Rev. Sio said.

“We totally understand that it is not an easy job for the Ministry, but because of their honest service, kindness and love for Samoa makes them provide us the best service.”

Not to be confused with Typhus symptoms of Typhoid Fever include weakness include stomach pain, headache, diarrhea or constipation, cough and loss of appetite.

Exposure to the bacterial infection can be fatal but rates are dropping worldwide. Only about 150,00 lives were claimed globally due to Typhoid Fever in 2019.

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