2019 Samoa measles outbreak

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2019 Samoa measles outbreak
Samoa - Location Map (2013) - WSM - UNOCHA.svg
First caseOctober 22
DatesOctober 22 2019 –
OriginNew Zealand
Confirmed cases>4,300

The 2019 Samoa measles outbreak began in October 2019 and is currently ongoing. As of December 4, there have been 63 deaths and over 4,000 cases of measles in Samoa.[2] (2.0% of the country's entire population), mainly children under four years old, and 10 reported cases in Fiji.[3][1] It is expected that 70 people will die and at least 6,500 people will be infected.[4] A state of emergency was declared on November 17, ordering all schools to be closed, ordered children under 17 to not go to public events, and made vaccination mandatory.[5] UNICEF has sent 110,500 vaccines to Samoa. Tonga and Fiji have also declared states of emergency.[6] Tonga closed all schools for several days while American Samoa required all travelers from Tonga and Samoa to present proof of vaccination.[7] In Fiji, vaccines are being prioritized for young children and people traveling overseas.[8]

On December 2, 2019, the government imposed a curfew and cancelled all Christmas celebrations and public gatherings.[9][10] All unvaccinated families have been ordered to display a red flag or red cloth in front of their homes to warn others and to aid mass vaccination efforts.[11] As part of aid efforts, the Royal New Zealand Air Force has transported medical supplies and equipment to Samoa. In addition, New Zealand, Australia, British, French Polynesian and French medical teams have been assisting Samoan medical authorities.[12]

Prime Minister of Samoa Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said he will propose a legislation that would penalize parents who refused to vaccinate their children.[13]

The outbreak has been attributed to a sharp drop in measles vaccination from the previous year, following an incident in 2018 when two infants died shortly after receiving measles vaccinations, which led the country to suspend its measles vaccination program.[14] The reason for the two infants' deaths was incorrect preparation of the vaccine by two nurses who mixed vaccine powder with anaesthetic. As of November 30, more than 50,000 people were vaccinated by the government of Samoa.[15]


  1. ^ a b "Samoa, Fiji and Tonga - Measles outbreak (DG ECHO, WHO, UNICEF and media) (ECHO Daily Flash of 25 November 2019) - Samoa". ReliefWeb. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  2. ^ a b "Samoa measles epidemic: Death toll rises to 63". RNZ. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  3. ^ Beat, Pacific (2019-11-26). "Samoa makes measles vaccinations compulsory after outbreak kills 32". ABC News. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  4. ^ emma.russell@nzherald.co.nz, Emma Russell Emma Russell is a health reporter for the New Zealand Herald (2019-11-29). "Samoan measles outbreak: 70 deaths projected and 6500 infected". ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  5. ^ "Samoa declares state of emergency over deadly measles outbreak". www.abc.net.au. 2019-11-17. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  6. ^ "Samoa measles outbreak worsens". 2019-11-23. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  7. ^ Samoa's measles crisis has claimed 15 lives but how did the outbreak start?, Tasha Wibawa, ABC, 18 Nov 2019
  8. ^ "Authorities in Fiji urge public to respect quarantine". RNZ. 2019-11-25. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  9. ^ "Children stay home, Christmas gatherings cancelled in Samoa". RNZ. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  10. ^ "Samoa measles outbreak: Police urge public to keep to curfew". RNZ. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  11. ^ Welle (www.dw.com), Deutsche. "Samoan measles epidemic: Unvaccinated advised to display red flags in front of their homes | DW | 04.12.2019". DW.COM. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  12. ^ "NZDF supporting Samoa measles epidemic response". Radio New Zealand. 3 December 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  13. ^ "Samoa govt allocates more funds for measles epidemic". RNZ. 2019-11-30. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  14. ^ "Samoa measles outbreak: WHO blames anti-vaccine scare as death toll hits 39". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  15. ^ Beat, Pacific (2019-08-02). "'Her body was turning black': Samoan nurses jailed for infant vaccination deaths". ABC News. Retrieved 2019-11-29.