“We’ve essentially been resuscitating children all morning.”
That’s the message from British nurse Becky Platt who is on the ground in Samoa right now.
Since October, 61 children and nine adults have died from measles in the small island nation. The country is experiencing daily deaths as dozens upon dozens of children are buried.
The epidemic can be traced back to 2018, when two babies died from measles vaccinations after nurses incorrectly mixed the vaccine with an expired anaesthetic instead of water. The babies’ deaths caused major distrust in the country’s vaccination program which saw immunisation rates drop sharply from 74 per cent to 31 per cent.
Medical teams have been flown in from around the world to help the measles epidemic in Samoa. Post continues after video.
The Samoan government has declared a state of emergency in the country as nurses go door-to-door in an attempt to get everyone up-to-date with their vaccines.
What has happened in Samoa is a reminder of the importance of vaccinations and “herd immunity” (aka, us all vaccinating together as a community).
After the two little babies died in July last year, the government halted its MMR immunisation program until April of this year while it investigated. The deaths were ruled to be due to human error not the vaccine, and the nurses responsible were each sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter. But by the time the vaccination program started again distrust in vaccinations was already paramount.
Anti-vaccination sentiment was led by locals like Edwin Tamasese who called for residents to use vitamin C instead of the vaccine, while alternative healer Fritz Alai’asa claimed alkaline water was the answer. Australian anti-vaxxer Taylor Winterstein also weighed in, alongside leading anti-vaccination advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr as they too spread misinformation to locals, just two months before the outbreak.
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The past few days have been profoundly monumental for me, my family and for this movement to date. I am deeply honoured to have been in the presence of a man I believe is, can and will change the course of history. This was a divinely timed, once in a lifetime opportunity and I will forever cherish the conversations and moments we shared together in Samoa, my homeland ???????? THANK YOU @robertfkennedyjr ???? #bebrave #dothestudy #believemothers #proscience #prosafety #informedconsent #makinginformedchoices #investigatebeforeyouvaccinate #tays_way_