Mass door-to-door vaccination campaign in Samoa as death toll jumps

Samoa will launch a mass door-to-door vaccination campaign this week as the death toll from the measles epidemic hits 60.

All public services and private businesses will come to on halt from 7am to 5pm on Thursday and Friday to allow for the campaign.

"The public is hereby advised to tie a red cloth or red flag in front of their houses and near the road to indicate that family members have not been vaccinated," the Samoan government said in a statement.

"The red mark makes it easier for the teams to identify households for vaccinations."

Samoa is taking extreme measures to contain the measles outbreak as the death toll continues to rise.

On Wednesday, it was announced the number of victims has risen to 60, with the majority of those under four years old.

The government has shut down all non-essential services and staff have been instructed to help with this mass vaccination campaign.

And on Tuesday, Member of the Council of Deputies Le Mamea Lemalu Su'a Tuiletufuga Leatuavao Ropati Mualia issued new proclamations to secure "the public safety of Samoa" as the crisis worsens.

Cars have been banned from roads and the public told to "stay home" and wait for the vaccination units unless they're seeking medical assistance. 

All inter-island travel between Upolu and Savaii has been prohibited unless travel is for the purpose of medical assistance.

Speaking to the nation earlier this week, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi said it was important to get the vaccination coverage to 100 percent.

"The mass campaign over the coming days will open up the opportunity for all who have not

been vaccinated up to 60 years of age to do so," he said.

"I would again call on everyone's cooperation to protect our children; seek medical care for sick children early, ensure family members - especially children - are vaccinated and maintain good hygiene standards in all environments."

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