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Samoa health investigating death of baby after routine vaccination

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Incident may cause vaccinations to lapse
Source: MOH press statement

Apia, SAMOA — Authorities in Samoa are investigating the circumstances of an infant’s death shortly after a set of twins received a routine vaccination.

On Wednesday evening, the Ministry of Health (MOH) notified the public of the incident in a statement issued to media outlets.

Signed by the Director General of Health, Aiono Dr. Alec Ekeroma, the statement said that the Ministry is currently investigating the death of a 14-week-old baby.

According to the statement, the baby and its twin received their scheduled immunizations at a vaccination clinic in Moto’otua, in Upolu, on Saturday.

Six hours later, the child was rushed to the hospital in a critical condition, the MOH statement says.

"The baby received vaccination due at 14 weeks old, as per immunization schedule, at our Moto'otua site. Six (6) hours later, the baby was brought to the emergency department at the hospital in critical condition.). Despite swift action by the medical team, including resuscitation, the baby, unfortunately, passed away. 

"Other infants who were vaccinated from the same batch of vaccines, including the deceased baby’s twin, have not had any adverse reactions or been brought to the hospital for treatment or for any other medical concerns. The Ministry of Health continues to follow up closely with those families out of an abundance of care and caution and to provide needed support.”

Now the coroner has ordered a post-mortem to determine the cause of death.

 “The Ministry of Health continues to follow up closely with those families out of an abundance of care and caution and to provide needed support.”

It has also been confirmed that nurses who administered the vaccines to the affected infant had followed the standard procedures accordingly in the care, storage and administration of the vaccines.

“We understand that the public may be concerned as to the cause of the unfortunate loss of life of this infant. We wish to reassure the public that the Ministry is investigating this matter and continues to ensure the proper care, storage, and administration of vaccines through intensive training, monitoring, and evaluation to ensure the safety of our people and to prevent incidents like the unfortunate deaths of the two infants in 2018.

"The Ministry will continue its vaccination program and strongly urges the public to bring all children for vaccination as per the vaccination schedule outlined in the Child Health Book. 

"This is especially important given the threat of the outbreak in American Samoa.

“The Ministry will be supporting and cooperating with the investigating teams from the World Health Organization and UNICEF, who will determine whether this unfortunate event is related to the vaccine or coincidental in nature. 

"The public will be updated regularly as the investigation continues.”

Click on attachment to download text of the statement