The Samoan government’s issued new orders in the state of the emergency over the measles outbreak that’s gripping the island nation.
Compulsory national vaccination orders are now in place, starting with those aged between six months and 19 years old. Older age groups will be immunised once those most at risk are protected from the illness.
“These groups are prioritised as the most vulnerable and unvaccinated young children are at high risk of measles and its complications, including death,” the government said in a statement.
The deaths of up to 17 people, including 16 children, have been linked to measles. There are more than 1000 suspected cases of infection.
“To date, all babies and children whom have tragically passed away from measles were not vaccinated,” the government said.
Travel restrictions are in place for anyone under the age of 19, and unvaccinated pregnant women aren’t allowed to go to work.
The new measures announced yesterday also reinforce earlier restrictions, including the ban on young people attending all organised public gatherings.
Officials are also warning anti-vaxxers to stop actions preventing people from getting immunised.
“Any person that actively discourages or prevents in any way members of the community from receiving their vaccination injection, is hereby warned to cease immediately, and is similarly warned not to take any further action of that kind,” the Attorney General’s Office and Samoa Police Service said in a joint statement.
A team of New Zealand medical staff is in Samoa delivering vaccines. Australian officials have also stepped in to help.
Samoa’s state of emergency will be in place until at least December 15.
Meanwhile, the Australian state of Victoria’s issued a health alert after a man in his 20s arrived at Melbourne Airport on an Air New Zealand flight from Samoa last Thursday, that went via Auckland.