Measles here in American Samoa, says DOH — Don’t wait, VACCINATE!
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — People traveling between here and the independent state of Samoa are being given MMR shots at the Pago Pago International Airport, as part of a massive effort to prevent a measles outbreak in the territory.
DOH clarified last week, that for families planning to travel to areas with known measles transmission (i.e. Upolu, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia) it is recommended that parents get MMR shots for children 6 months or older at the DOH clinics, two weeks prior to traveling.
(The Leone and Amouli Community Heath Centers are currently closed due to a shortage of nurses; but the Fagaalu and Tafuna Well Baby Clinics are open Monday through Friday from 8a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. - 12noon).
According to DOH, non-resident passengers arriving at the airport must present an immunization record showing a completed MMR, or a letter from a physician listing all vaccines received, including the MMR. If not, they will be denied entry.
American Samoa resident passengers must present an immunization record showing a completed MMR or a letter from a doctor listing all vaccines received - including the MMR. If not, they will be subject to quarantine at their homes for 7-14 days.
All residents departing to areas of measles outbreak must have proof of the MMR vaccine or obtain an MMR shot. If not, they will be quarantined up to 14 days upon their return. “DOH is discouraging any sports, churches, school groups, etc. from traveling.”
DAYCARE CENTERS AND SCHOOLS:
DOH is reminding all schools and daycare facilities NOT to accept any children who are not up-to-date with their immunizations.
WHAT TO DO:
If a person suspects that he/she or anyone in their household has measles, they are advised to call the DOH hotline at 633-5871/5872 and DOH will send a team to their home. DOH recommends that children who are sick stay home, drink plenty of fluids, and take Tylenol for fever.
“However, if symptoms get severe, such as fever not subsiding after taking Tylenol, experiencing severe headaches, excessive coughing, or diarrhea, take the child to the LBJ Emergency Room immediately. Usual signs of symptoms of measles to look out for:
- high fever
- runny nose
- red, watery eyes
- rash that breaks out 3-5 days after symptoms begin, starting from the head and spreading to the rest of the body
There has been no word yet, on the “two travel-related suspected measles cases in American Samoa” that were announced by DOH last week.
The two youngsters, both under 5 years old and from the same household, arrived via the Lady Naomi on Oct. 31st from Samoa and have been isolated at the LBJ Medical Center since Saturday, Nov. 11th.
On Nov. 13th, Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga declared that “a public health emergency exists.” (See Samoa News Nov. 14th edition for details).
In Samoa - where a measles epidemic has been declared - six deaths over the past month have been blamed on the virus, with an estimated 700 suspected cases.
Yesterday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Samoa cancelled all services and gatherings until the measles state of emergency passes. Graduations and end-of-year prize givings in Samoa have also been cancelled and according to the Samoa Government Press Secretariat, “MMR vaccinations for members of the public who have not yet received a vaccination injection is now a mandatory legal requirement for all of Samoa.”
Furthermore, “All schools in Samoa including the National University of Samoa (NUS) are closed forthwith until further notice, and all government administered examinations that were pending are hereby postponed until further notice.”
“All public gatherings, cannot henceforth include the presence of children up to the age of 17,” and for all national hospitals, “only one family member caregiver can attend to the care of any person who is hospitalized anywhere in Samoa.”
“Unless they are requiring medical attention, no child under the age of 18 can attend to any medical facility.”