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Grieving Samoan mum loses two children to suspected measles, third child is ill

Prayer and family support are the only things giving grieving mum Faao Tuivale any comfort as she mourns the loss of two of her children.

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There have been eight suspected measles deaths so far – all but one of them a child. Source: 1 NEWS

Her infants are jointly buried in a grave after dying from suspected measles.

“We depend on God to give us comfort and strength, we miss them so much but our faith in God will guide us through this,” grandfather Matavale Toailoa told 1 NEWS Pacifc correspondent Barbara Dreaver. 

Ms Tuivale’s surviving two-year-old twin is also gravely ill from the measles, but the family have taken her out of the hospital as they’ve lost faith with the health system.

They’re hoping traditional medicine will cure her and the disease won’t spread to others.

“We are concerned, as you can see, we have three kids, three sick kids and we are fasting because we believe that God will get us through this,” Mr Toailoa said.

As the death toll grows, panicked parents are racing to get their children vaccinated. One clinic alone gave 1000 injections in just one day.

Currently, eight children are in intensive care in hospital in Apia, and there have been eight suspected deaths among more than 700 cases, all but one of them young children.

Immunisation rates have been at a low 41 per cent – it’s taken this crisis to change that.

“I think we have been very complacent especially the public at large and it’s also our fault for failing to convince them to do immunisation,” said Samoa director general of health Laeusa Take Naseri.

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1 NEWS Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver has this update from Samoa on the morning on November 14. Source: Breakfast

Medical authorities are working around the clock, looking after the sick and trying to protect the vulnerable.

New Zealand has been asked for more vaccines and people power to relieve stretched staff.

Such is the level of need, Australia is building a makeshift intensive care unit, which should be up and running by the weekend.

Auckland University immunologist Dr Helen Petousis-Harris said things were unravelling in Samoa.

“It’s like throwing a match on dry tinder, it’s going off very fast.”

For frightened parents it’s about protecting their children, but for some families, it’s just too late.