Measles death toll in Samoa rises to 42 as officials blame anti-vaxxers and UK sends doctors to try and stop the outbreak
Anti-vaxxers have been blamed for a killer measles outbreak in Samoa that has killed 42 people, the majority of whom were children under four.
Low vaccination rates have allowed the disease to spread rapidly and infect thousands in a matter of weeks.
The number of cases on the Pacific island surged by 213 in a 24-hour period yesterday, taking the total to 3,149.
Eighteen of those to die had not reached their first birthday – a further 20 were between one and four.
Samoa’s government has declared a state of emergency on the island, closing schools, banning children from public places and ordering everyone to have jabs.
Officials blamed an anti-vaccination movement for causing jab rates to plummet – in 2018 only a third of children under five had theirs.
Fears were raised about the MMR vaccination last year when two babies died within minutes of receiving the jab.
The government briefly suspended its immunisation programme while the cases were investigated.
When it later emerged the babies were killed by a medical blunder, the public’s trust in the jab had been dented.