Samoa Halts MMR Vaccine Program Following Death of Babies

Samoan government officials have launched an investigation into the deaths of deaths of two one-year-old infants. The babies were brought to Safotu Hospital in Savai’i and given “routine” MMR vaccines. They died within minutes of receiving it.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi expressed condolences following the news. He also stated “I have called a full inquiry into the circumstances leading up to this devastating incident which I do not take lightly.”

Here’s his full statement regarding the matter.

“I have not been fully briefed concerning the circumstances leading up to the death of the two innocent young children who passed away reportedly after the young boy and girl were administered vaccination injections at a District Hospital in Savai’i last Friday.
But it will not detain me from reiterating a message of sympathy and condolences to the parents and families.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. And I can imagine that there is no pain more far reaching and deeper than losing a child. My heart and prayers go out to the grieving families at this most difficult time. To that effect, I humbly extend my deepest sympathy, condolences and pray that comfort and peace will come to them.

As a grandfather and father, I can relate to the grief by the families for their loss.
I also almost lost one of my grandsons several years ago under similar circumstances.
But with the Grace of our Father in Heaven, my grandson survived with the proper treatment. But he will never be the same as he has lost the ability to speak.

As Prime Minister, I have called a full inquiry into the circumstances leading up to this devastating incident which I do not take lightly.
There are already processes that will determine if negligence is a factor. And if so, rest assured those processes will be implemented to the letter to ensure that such a tragedy will not be repeated and those responsible will be made to answer.

The deaths also reaffirm the desires behind the government to proceed with the merger between the National Health Services and the Ministry of Health at full speed. When completed, the merge will ensure that incidents of this nature will not be repeated. It is a message to our people that deaths of the two young infants are not in vain.

Providing quality health care for our people remains a key government priority.

To that end, we have just inked a partnership with medical specialists from India ranked as the best medical practitioners in the world to start the second phase of our engagement which will see specialists from India performing state of the art surgeries in Samoa. Six other medical specialists from the People’s Republic of China will soon join our medical staff to share their wealth of experience.
When it comes to the Health Sector, government does not and will not put a price tag on saving our peoples lives. This is reflected by government’s resolve to provide the best and latest lifesaving treatment available for our people. For the government it is not just an obligation but a given.

Again, I extend my sincere condolences to the grieving parents and relatives.
The director general of health, Leausa Take Naseri, said the country has halted the vaccination program pending an investigation.
“We’re also concerned for the safety of our workers especially the nurses who were involved because it’s now easily blamed — the finger is pointed towards the nurses.”

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