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Hang red flags if you need measles vaccinations, Samoan government urges during shutdown

Samoan families have been asked to stay home and hang red flags outside their homes if they need vaccinations in a last-gasp effort to inoculate the country from a deadly measles outbreak.

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Five people have died in the last 24 hours with a state-enforced nationwide lock-down in place tomorrow to try to get a grip on the crisis. Source: 1 NEWS

Samoan prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has effectively shut down the country for two days, ordering a "door-to-door mass vaccination campaign".

All non-essential businesses and government services will close, and transport will be banned.

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Most branches of government will close on December 5 and 6. Source: Breakfast

Public servants have been ordered to work alongside local and foreign health workers to provide vaccinations.

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Today health officials issued another grim update, advising that five more Samoans have died from the disease in the past 24 hours.

That current death toll, certain to rise further, is 60.

The number of Samoans to have caught the disease has ticked over 4000, meaning more than one in every 50 locals have contracted measles in the outbreak.

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The PM also said she was horrified to see the cartoon in the ODT about the deadly measles outbreak. Source: 1 NEWS

Reports from Samoa suggest that many people have stopped turning up for work, while schools have closed and church services have been cancelled.

The government, which has made the vaccination compulsory and issued a state of emergency, is claiming major gains in lifting the country's vaccination rate.

Around a third of were vaccinated when the epidemic began but Radio NZ reports three-quarters of young children, the most at-risk group, on Samoa's main islands have been vaccinated.