No one should be surprised either that they have invented 101 different theories about why kids are dying in Samoa.
It can’t simply be that they are unvaccinated and that measles is a life-threatening disease! That would interfere with their whole world view that it is okay to leave their own kids unvaccinated and unprotected because they think that vaccines are dangerous, aren’t necessary, and vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t that big of a deal.
Is the Samoan Measles Outbreak Fabricated?
And that gets us to the idea that the measles outbreak in Samoa is fake or unnatural.
Was the measles outbreak in Samoa started by shedding from vaccines sent by UNICEF in early October?
Wait, why did UNICEF start sending measles vaccines to Samoa in October?
Yeah, that’s right. The first cases were actually in September, triggered by visitor from New Zealand in August.
Anyway, the strain in Samoa is D8, not A as you would expect if it was a vaccine strain.
And the idea that the outbreak was fabricated by Merck to sell more vaccine?
“This would be news if outbreaks of similar intensity occurred in first world countries, such as the United States or the European Union. But they don’t. Nor do they occur in a similar scale or severity. This means that hygiene, nutrition, refrigeration, and potable water—items many in the modern world take for granted—are the real delta between measles deaths in the Third World versus mild measles cases in the first, which come and go, and rarely result in fatalities.”
Vaccination rates went down, the people in Samoa got caught up in the rise in measles cases and outbreaks happening all over the world, and they soon had a measles epidemic on their hands, with lots of kids dying.
Unfortunately, anti-vaccine folks continue to exploit the tragedy, trying to make it sound like vaccines actually caused the epidemic.
“The Samoa Measles Appeal is being launched by the Government of Samoa to receive financial assistance from partners to support national efforts to contain the outbreak, to effectively treat people who contracted measles, and to achieve herd immunity for long term protection of the population.”
National Measles Response and Recovery Appeal
They are even making up conspiracy theories about the money the Government of Samoa is requesting to help control the epidemic and prevent future outbreaks.
The Timeline of the Measles Epidemic in Samoa
Maybe what is happening in Samoa isn’t so easy to understand…
Let’s give it a try!
To truly understand what is happening in Samoa, you have to go back a little further than when the epidemic started.
In fact, we have to go all of the way back to July 2018, when two young children died very shortly after getting their routine MMR vaccines. Although they died because of a mixup between the vaccine diluent and a powerful anesthetic, the tragic deaths led to the suspension of all vaccinations in the country.
And while the suspension was eventually reversed, they continued to hold MMR vaccinations for another nine months, until April 15, 2019.
Combine that with the efforts of anti-vax folks and it is easy to see how immunization rates in Samoa eventually tumbled to a low of just 30%!
What happened next?
On October 9, we got the first report of a measles case in Samoa and that it was related to a someone who visited from New Zealand for a conference at the end of August.
But by the time of that first report, at least 86 people had already been tested for suspected measles!
“Of the 28 specimens of suspected measles cases sent to Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory Melbourne, Australia on the 30th Sept 2019, twelve (12) results have been received over the week end. Of these twelve there were four confirmed cases; one adult and three children. All have been treated and discharged with no complications.
On the 2nd of October 2019, we sent another 8 specimens of suspected measles cases. Current results received this afternoon of these eight specimens sent revealed three new confirmed cases. Of these three positive cases, two were children under five years and 1 was an adult of 22 years old. All have been treated and discharged.
A total of seven confirmed cases have been reported to date. In anticipation, we now confirm a Measles Epidemic.”
Ministry of Health Press Release 1 – Measles Epidemic (October 16)
With that many cases already, it should be obvious that the measles outbreak in Samoa started in late September. That explains why UNICEF had begun to send measles vaccines and vitamin A to Samoa in early October.
And that should put to rest the myth that this is some kind of unnatural, vaccine induced outbreak that got started because of the UNICEF vaccines.
“The deceased child of one year two months was admitted on the 8th October 2019 with a history of febrile convulsions, cough and skin rash typical of measles associated with severe dehydration. Verification of immunization status for this child revealed that he has not been vaccinated against measles.”
Ministry of Health Press Release 1 – Measles Epidemic
Tragically, we very soon saw the first measles death (October 15) in Samoa, an unvaccinated toddler. With continued cases, they soon declared a measles epidemic on October 16.
With continued cases and deaths, the Government of Samoa closed all preschools and daycare centers on October 31.
On November 8, they lowered the age to get the first dose MMR in Samoa to 6 months.
It wasn’t long before the Government of Samoa declared a full fledged state of emergency (November 15), closing schools, restricting children from gathering in public, and making vaccination mandatory.
“The outbreaks in Samoa and Tonga are caused by the D8 strain (genotype) of measles virus. Measles vaccine coverage varies in Pacific island countries and areas, ranging from 31% in Samoa to 99% in the Cook Islands, Nauru and Niue.”
Measles Outbreak in the Pacific – Situation Report No 1, 22 November, 2019
It was at this time that more help came from New Zealand, 12 nurses to help administer vaccines. Australia also soon sent a team of 34 doctors and nurses to help at Samoa’s main hospital in the capital Apia.
“Samoa’s government is warning anyone trying to discourage people from getting measles vaccinations to stop it.”
Measles Update: Samoa warns against anti-vaxxers; issues new emergency orders
And now, although there have been some roadblocks put up by anti-vaxxers both in and out of Samoa, with lots of help, they are hopefully getting their epidemic under control.
“As of December 6th, 2019, approximately 89% of all eligible people in Samoa have been vaccinated against measles.”
National Emergency Operation Centre: Update on the measles outbreak (Press Release 21) December 7, 2019
In fact, many people were vaccinated when the Government of Samoa shut down on December 5th and 6th.
“On 03/12, the Government announced that a nationwide mass vaccination will take place on Thursday and Friday (05 + 06/12) and all public services (excluding power and water, police, and health services) as well as the private sector (with few exceptions) will be shut down from 7 am – 5 pm to enforce the mass vaccination programme. Citizens were asked to stay at their residences and await the visit of mobile vaccination teams. There are 128 teams carrying out the mass vaccination campaign during this period.”
National Measles Response and Recovery Appeal, 6 December 2019
During the door to door mass vaccination campaign, families were told to stay home and hang red flags outside their homes if they needed to be vaccinated.
Amazingly, with all of the cases and deaths, some folks resisted and didn’t want to be vaccinated and protected.
According to the CDC, from 2006 to 2017, at least 3,454,269,356 doses of vaccines were distributed in the United States. These are the vaccines that are covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, such as DTaP, MMR, Hepatitis A and B, HPV, and flu, etc.
That’s over 287 million doses each year!
How about worldwide?
That’s harder to know, but consider that the World Health Organization reports that 85% of infants worldwide, or almost 100 million infants, get at least:
3 doses of DTP
3 doses of hepatitis B
at least one doses of measles
3 doses of polio
Plus, an increasing number are getting vaccines to protect them against Hib, pneumococcal disease, rotavirus, HPV, meningitis A, mumps, rubella, tetanus, and yellow fever.
“UNICEF supplies vaccines reaching 45 per cent of the world’s children under five years old as part of its commitment to improving child survival.”
How many vaccine doses are we talking about?
A lot. UNICEF alone buys 2.8 billion doses of vaccines each year! Those vaccines are then distributed to children in over 100 countries.
Vaccine-Preventable Disease Statistics
As impressive as the number of vaccines that are given each year are the numbers about what happens when we give vaccines:
there are 2 to 3 million fewer deaths in the world each year because people are vaccinated and protected
in developing countries, every $1 spent on vaccines provides $16 in direct benefits, but that goes up to $44 when you take “into account the broader economic impact of illness”
for children born in the United States during “1994–2013, routine childhood immunization was estimated to prevent 322 million illnesses (averaging 4.1 illnesses per child) and 21 million hospitalizations (0.27 per child) over the course of their lifetimes and avert 732,000 premature deaths from vaccine-preventable illnesses,” and it also “will potentially avert $402 billion in direct costs and $1.5 trillion in societal costs because of illnesses prevented”
only two countries continue to have wild polio – Afghanistan and Pakistan – and together, they only had 21 cases in 2017