33 avoidable deaths

The death toll from measles in Samoa is now 33.

All but four of the deaths are children – under the age of four – including one who died in the past day.

About 200 people with the disease remain in hospital.

A mass vaccination campaign is underway and dozens of New Zealand nurses are in Samoa to assist. . . 

It’s likely the epidemic came from New Zealand :

. . . Ease of travel, particularly international, and immunity gaps within New Zealand meant the epidemic was not surprising, Immunisation Advisory Centre director Nikki Turner said.

In a report published in The New Zealand Medical Journal on Friday, Turner said more action was needed to ensure better protection for the community and the elimination of measles.

Some of those steps included resourcing a national campaign targeting adolescents and young adults; the adequacy of vaccine supply and accessibility including more use of pharmacies and pop-up clinics; and support for front-line workers. 

There was a risk to both New Zealand and Pacific populations and the epidemic indicated the country’s immunisation programme fell short. The health sector’s response needed to be strengthened, the report said. 

“With multiple imports and more than 12 recognised outbreaks in the first five months of this year affecting most regions, this should appropriately be called an epidemic,” Turner said. . . 

Otago University, Wellington Department of Public Health professor Michael Baker said the only way to contain an epidemic was to rapidly fill the immunity gap.

 It would be a “very responsible step” for the country to consider extreme measures that prevented the transmission of measles, particularly to the Pacific. . . 

The epidemics in New Zealand and Samoa and the deaths that have resulted were preventable.

It started when someone who was infected travelled to New Zealand and spread the disease here and a traveller probably took it to Samoa.

New Zealand’s immunisation rate wasn’t high enough for herd immunity and Samoa’s was far lower.

Europeans brought diseases to the Pacific Islands more than 200 years ago. They had the excuse that they didn’t know the dangers and they didn’t have vaccinations.

That excuse cannot be used in the 21st century, especially when a preventable disease has already cost 33 lives.

6 Responses to 33 avoidable deaths

  1. adamsmith1922 says:

    This is the result of the anti-vax campaign, compounded by failures at MOH and the lack of health measurement under the Ardern ‘kindness and wellbeing government’


  2. adamsmith1922 says:

    Reblogged this on The Inquiring Mind and commented:
    This is what happens when you allow anti-vax campaigns to flourish


  3. Andrei says:

    This is the result of the anti-vax campaign…

    What utter tosh and nor is it at the responsibility of the J. Ardern Government

    There are global epidemics of Measles every ten to twenty years or so and in between epidemics measles persists with a small number of cases in poor third world countries.

    It is my guess but not provable by me that the vaccine is not 100% efficacious and its merits have been oversold

    For people of Eurasian origin who have coexisted with measles for thousands of years it is not generally a big deal – it is a problem for people like those from the Pacific Islands whose first encounter with the disease was comparitively recently that it can be more dangerous

    And if indeed the outbreak in the Pacific originated in this country that is only because people in this country have much more contact with the Pacific Islands than the people from Burkina Faso do.

    Only one disease has ever been completley eradicated through mass vaccination and that was smallpox and the costs and effort that went into thatiniative were astronomical, far more than the Apollo program. And there is no absolute guarantee that it wont reappear


  4. homepaddock says:

    Andrei, you’re right the vaccine isn’t 100% efficacious, but it protects more people than not vaccinating does. Measles has spread in NZ because vaccination rates slipped below the % needed for herd immunity and in Samoa where vaccination rates are far lower.

    Polio has nearly been eradicated thanks to a world-wide vaccination campaign by Rotary and the Gates Foundation – https://www.rotary.org/en/our-causes/ending-polio


  5. Andrei says:

    You know Ele the term “herd immunity” is just a talking point

    There are far more complex forces at work here – the chaotic nature of epidemics of infectious diseases for one. This time next year this epidemic will have burned itself out and measles will more or less disappear from the public consciousness and will remain so until the next major outbreak 10, 15 or 20 years hence = whenever but it will happen. The last one before this was in the 1990s sometime (1997 I just looked it up) with several more minor outbreaks since

    Another factor at play here is the need for people with skin in the game to find scapegoats for their apparent failures. Hence the invocation of “anti vaxers” . But this is not really much different from blaming the Jews for the 1531 Lisbon earthquake.

    Personally I think vaccination is a useful tool in the public health armory for containing epidemics and limiting the damage they do but I don’t think they are necessarily being used wisely or effectively –

    The sledge hammer approach of vaccinating everyone for diseases which are quite minor in most people will quite probably go down in the annals of medical history as a major mistake. Who knows

    When I looked up the date of the last great outbreak in 1997 I read that at that time WHO targeted 2010 as the year the world would be measles free. Well they obviously have failed to meet that target and who are to blame? The “anti vaxers” of course.

    Perhaps we dont actually have the tools, money and human resources required to eliminate measles from the world = and then there are diseases other than measles that blight human existence to deal with as well – how about tuberculosis or malaria

    Whenever people in authority are blaming others for some natural event they purport to have control over you should get suspicious – they are never going to admit their own limitations or the limitations of the solution they are peddling


  6. Andrei says:

    Sorry to harp on but,,,

    Polio has nearly been eradicated thanks to a world-wide vaccination campaign by Rotary and the Gates Foundation

    It’s in that slippery qualifier “nearly” that lies the rub.

    And given that just one of the hotbeds of poliovirus are the badlands of Afghanistan it doesn’t seem likely that that “nearly” will be removed from that statement anytime in the near future…

    The Gate’s can ostentatiously throw money at acheiving noble sounding objectives and gain tax advantages in doing so but you wont see them gettting their hands dirty building latrines in the squalid slums of Addis Ababa where an antibiotic resistant strain of typhoid has emerged…

    …but what do we care – we have access to clean water and first world sewerage sytems and dealing typhoid just isn’t a sexy cause


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