22 Oct 2009

Immunisation campaign to target Samoan children

4:34 pm on 22 October 2009

A measles immunisation campaign is being launched in Samoa, amid fears that children living in crowded conditions following the tsunami are more vulnerable to communicable diseases.

More than 30,000 children will be eligible for measles vaccinations and provisions of vitamin A from next Monday, as part of the Ministry of Health and Samoan National Health Service campaign.

Children aged six months to five years old will be targetted in the campaign, which is being supported by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation.

UNICEF health and nutrition consultant, Philip Mann, says the health ministry is investigating suspected measles cases, but people shouldn't wait for lab test results before taking action.

"Regardless of confirmation of measles, it's not something to wait to have confirmation for. It's a preventive intervention and it is hugely beneficial, in general, to have children's immunity boosted."

Mr Mann says vitamin A helps immune systems fight off infections.

Teams will be stationed in rural Upolu and Savai'i for the first week-and-a-half before moving into Apia's urban areas.