Children in Samoa have been temporarily banned from attending church services and other public gatherings, due to a growing measles outbreak that has claimed more than 60 lives and threatens to cancel Advent celebrations.
The government of the South Pacific island nation was closed today and yesterday, as officials and public health workers turned all their attention to an immunization campaign.
Prior to the outbreak, less than a third (31%) of the island’s population of about 200,000 were protected by a measles vaccine, according to Reuters. After cases were reported and a national emergency was declared in mid-November, nearly another third received immunizations in the following two weeks.
As of yesterday (Dec. 5), 82 percent of infants and children up to 4 years old have been vaccinated, along with 93 percent of those between 5 and 19 years old.
Even so, more than 4,300 Samoans have been diagnosed with measles and at least 63 have died. Of those, all but 3 were children; 55 were ...1