WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of the Interior has given American Samoa $490,000 to help fight the prevent the spread of measles in the U.S. territory and to help bolster efforts to vaccinate the entire population with the Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine.
“We are pleased to see that current efforts in American Samoa have been effective in stabilizing and preventing the spread of measles in the territory,” said Doug Domenech, DOI assistant secretary for Insular and International Affairs. “This funding support will help American Samoa fully achieve their goal of bringing vaccination levels in the territory to 100% and bolster their ongoing efforts.”
“This timely financial assistance will go a long way to address the incurred financial expenditures emanating from the activities implemented to combat and preempt the spread of measles in American Samoa,” said American Samoa Gov. Lolo Moliga. “I am truly thankful to the U.S. Department of the Interior and its Office of Insular and International Affairs for continuing to be very sensitive and responsive to the needs of the territory.”
As a result of a measles outbreak late last year in other parts of the Pacific and in the neighboring state of Samoa where more than 80 people died from the disease, the U.S. territory declared a state of emergency on Nov. 13, 2019, to protect its residents against the spread of measles. On Dec. 8, 2019, the state of emergency was extended with restrictions on public gatherings and the closure of public and private schools.
As part of its campaign to protect its population, the American Samoa government applied under the Technical Assistance Program for urgent needs funding from the Office of Insular Affairs to supplement an immunization campaign in the territory and conduct other protective measures. As stated by the ASG Department of Health in its application, 82% of the population in American Samoa has already been immunized with the MMR vaccination, and funding assistance was requested to provide immunizations for the remaining 18%, or 10,530 people, in the territory. OIA funding will also support the purchase of medical supplies, lab equipment, and border patrol efforts as part of the ASG’s overall strategy to protect residents in the territory. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services continues to be the territory’s primary partner in these efforts.
To date, the total cases of measles confirmed through laboratory results has been 11. While restrictions on public gatherings have been lifted, and school has resumed, the territory remains in a continued state of public health emergency and anyone traveling to the territory is required to provide proof of MMR vaccination as a condition for entry. (PR)