Samoa shuts down as mass measles vaccination effort gets underway

An international contingent of medical workers have started carrying out a mass measles vaccination programme today in Samoa amid the deadly epidemic.

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1 NEWS Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver filed this report on the morning on December 5. Source: Breakfast

Teams from  Britain, United States, France, Australia and  New Zealand are on the ground helping local authorities. 

All roads, businesses and most government departments are closed in Samoa today as the vaccination campaign goes up a notch.

The mass vaccination programme is an effort to control the catastrophic measles epidemic that has gripped the small Pacific island nation.

Volunteers gather to be deployed to a district to vaccinate locals. Source: 1 NEWS

The epidemic's death toll stands at 60, with most of the victims children. Thousands more are infected with the disease.

Red flags outside homes indicate to medical volunteers going door to door that the residents inside have not received the MMR vaccine.

Families are placing red flags outside their homes awaiting the teams to arrive with the vaccinations. Source: 1 NEWS

1 NEWS Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver is on the ground in Apia. She says the island nation is desperately playing catch up.

"It's absolutely tragic and there's more to come, there are another 20 in intensive care.

"We are not there yet in terms of these cases climbing." 

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Unprecedented public health measures will be put in place in the Pacific island nation. Source: 1 NEWS

With public and private services closed and driving on the roads prohibited today and tomorrow it's hoped as many people as possible can be vaccinated.