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Samoans urged to keep vaccinating children

MMR vaccine bottles and needle

Apia, SAMOA — A vaccine expert in the Pacific region is urging Samoans to continue with immunisations for their children as they save lives.

Earlier this month a pair of one-year old infants died shortly after being given the MMR vaccination at a hospital on Savaii.

A post morten has been completed, with results expected to be released within days.

Health investigations are also ongoing, while a police inquest is scheduled to take place next week.

Dr Ananda Amarasinghe of the World Health Organisaion's Western Pacific division was in Samoa and says MMR vaccine fatalities are extremely rare.

He said they were looking into whether the deaths were caused by some vaccine reaction, such as anaphylaxsis that wasn't properly managed.

According to him, another possibility is that it was an immunisation error caused by someone administering the vaccine.

"We are technical people and we can tell these people have lost two children, and we have grave concern and deep sympathy for all the families and people of this country but it is our job also to reassure the people that vaccine is safe generally and that means vaccine is there to protect you from deadly diseases."

Dr Ananda Amarasinghe said vial samples have been sent to Australia for analysis following a postmortem of the two infants.