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Samoan infants died after MMR vaccine.

By Loabay Admin1, Jul 10 2018 10:52AM

Samoan infants died after MMR vaccine. Here's why an expert says Kiwis shouldn't fear for their kids


Vaccinations used in NZ and Samoa are safe, Dr Helen Petousis-Harris says
Vaccinations used in NZ and Samoa are safe, Dr Helen Petousis-Harris says

Samoa's Government has seized supplies of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, following the deaths of two infants - but Kiwi parents should not panic, an expert says.


A one-year-old girl died within a few minutes of being given the vaccine on Friday. Two hours later, another one-year-old died.


Dr Helen Petousis-Harris, the University of Auckland's Director of Research at the Immunisation Advisory Centre, told Stuff deaths associated with vaccines were extremely rare.


"This is an exceptional event ... we shouldn't fly into a panic," she said.


"It's never happened in New Zealand."


She said there were rare examples of vaccine-associated deaths around the world.


Examples of that included an incident in Syria in 2014, where 15 children died after mistakenly being given a muscle relaxant.


Generally, there were two main reasons why vaccine-related deaths occurred, Petousis-Harris explained. Those reasons were down to medical errors or contamination.


It's early days and hard to say what the cause of the deaths in Samoa would likely have been, she said.

"Until we have more information about the events we cannot speculate about what might have happened, but we are endeavouring to get more details," Petousis-Harris said in a statement.


"We first need to understand what happened, then what can be done to ensure it doesn't happen again."


Stuff has contacted Samoa's Ministry of Health for comment.


IMMUNISATION UPTAKE IN NZ


There were 14,709 children who reached the 12-month-old milestone from January 1 to March 31 this year, Ministry of Health figures show.


Of those, 93.6 per cent (or 13,764) were fully immunised for their age.


"MMR vaccines have been used for decades all over the world including New Zealand and there is a long track record of safety," Petousis-Harris said.


"The vaccine used in New Zealand and Samoa is extremely safe."


Source : Stuff NZ

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