Here we respond to some of the points made in Jane Hansen’s article that blames “anti-vax roots”:
1. “What is happening in Samoa is the end result of a community without effective vaccination”.
It is interesting how, as often where the topic is infectious disease, the only preventative action mentioned is vaccination. Other determinants of disease and complications are not presented; only the alleged need for vaccination. The WHO, UNICIF and scientific research tell how to prevent and manage infectious diseases. e.g. “Vitamin A halves measles risks” , . According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, “the best protection against infectious disease is a healthy immune system, supported by adequate vitamin A and vitamin C. Well-nourished children easily recover from most infectious disease and rarely suffer complications” .
Malnutrition has been an ongoing health problem in Samoa leading to hospitalisation and deaths ,  and Obesity , , , . We know that in Samoa, where in the context of widespread poor nutrition and gross vitamin A deficiency, measles has attracted medical attention and so consolidated diagnoses, morbidity and deaths . Readers would have been better informed if this had been mentioned.
Furthermore, what makes measles a more significant issue NOW is the effect of mass measles vaccination. Mass measles vaccination reduces circulating natural virus, which in turn greatly reduces natural immune boosts. Now pregnant women, previously vaccinated or not, do not have adequate immune factors to protect themselves or to pass to their babies as they once did. This is why so many children under 12 months of age are affected .
2. “Edwin Tamasese, a “traditional healer” who claims vitamins can cure measles, was arrested on Thursday”
Why would a man be arrested for wanting to save lives based on WHO/UNICEF/scientific research recommendation to treat measles using vitamin A? If anything, we are finding many parents who are indebted to Edwin for his work facilitating recovery from measles possibly saving 100 children . Shouldn’t the government take him on board?
Andrea Chapman from Red Cross on the ground at Samoa states “some households had kids with measles – but they were on the path to recovery – and not in any danger.” “The children that are home – they just make a recovery – an uneventful recovery without complication” .
3. “The mistake resulted in the temporary suspension of the country’s immunisation program, and undermined trust in the vaccine program.”
Not only were there deaths caused by mistakes made by the nurses in 2018, but before those deaths occurred, there were two other deaths following MMR vaccination, 1 in 2016 and the other in 2018, that don’t seem to get any air time at all. “The Laulu children died before news broke of two 1-year-old babies who died shortly after getting an MMR vaccination at Safotu District Hospital, on the island of Savaii, in early July” .
We also know that there were MMR vaccines that had been “Not properly refrigerated” and deemed too dangerous to administer . Perhaps poor vaccine refrigeration contributed to the Laulu children’s death. The state of vaccine storage in previous years may also be in question. This raises the possibility that atypical responses to both vaccination and natural virus infections in the previously vaccinated contributed to disease severity and high death rate , .
AND Ms Hanson might reflect on how dangerous untrained vaccinators can be and that it was four vaccination-associated deaths that undermined confidence and NOT “anti-vax roots”.
4. “Mr Yett said vaccines were a ‘magic bullet’ ”.
Outbreaks have occurred in locations with high vaccination rates , , , , , , , , . Perhaps measles vaccination is not as effective as often claimed.
In November 2019, in a journal article, ‘Is There a Correlate of Protection for Measles Vaccine’ , Stanley A Plotkin questions whether it is possible to rely on the measles antibody titre that has so far been deemed an appropriate guide to measles immunity. He states “the fully protective level of neutralizing antibodies is not known”. So, how can we establish the effectiveness of the vaccine? Do we vaccinate throughout life with live virus vaccines without even knowing when and to what extent or who will be protected? And what could the consequences be for the overall functioning of the immune system?
The Samoa government “National Measles and Recovery Appeal” has received to date 10.7million US Dollars  with the primary objective of the appeal to promote vaccination. No funding for promoting health and vitamin A that the country desperately needs to avoid severe disease. Why is that? Sources suggest the funding is primarily from The World Bank? . We know that The World Bank is one of the co-sponsors of the ‘Children’s Vaccine Initiative (CVI) Strategic Plan – Managing Opportunity and Change: A Vision of Vaccination for the 21st Century’, published in 1998 . Dr Suzanne Humphries found “The plan had key points, which were using the media to structure messages that shaped public opinion to co-opt or persuade key opinion people in all levels of society – medical, lay and entertainment, to get pro-vaccine spokespeople at every level conveying one message and one message only…… with the aim to make vaccines a core topic in society” .
5. Samoa’s vaccination rate in October, when the epidemic began, was around 31%, down from 70% in 2016.
This is a case of deception by omission. The fall in vaccination rate related to infants 12-15 months of age . These infants are only a small percentage of the population. So such a fall would barely affect “Samoa’s vaccination rate” or the level of the population’s measles immunity. However Samoa’s rampant malnutrition would , and not only in respect of measles immunity. WHO statistics show a consistent drop of vaccination rates since 2013 from 90% and dubious estimates of vaccination levels from earlier this century . Why and who is to blame for that?
6. Questions that were not raised in this article that require answers: