MMR Vaccinations in Samoa Stop When Two Babies Die After Receiving it


The government of Samoa has stopped providing a vaccine designed to protect children against measles, mumps, and rubella. The vaccine is known as the MMR vaccination. This action was initiated after two babies died minutes after they were given the MMR vaccination. It is considered a routine vaccination. A governmental investigation was launched. It was also discovered one of the two children who died were given the MMR vaccination without the consent of the parents. The Samoan government has ceased administering the vaccine across the country.

Death Of Babies

Each of the two babies passed away minutes after receiving the MMR vaccine and were taken to Safotu Hospital in Savai’i. Neither one of them were able to be saved. The first baby was a girl who was one-year-old. She died within three minutes after being given the MMR vaccination. Approximately two hours after the baby girl died, a second family brought in their boy to be vaccinated. He was one year old. The family heard about the death of the baby girl and refused to have their boy vaccinated. It is alleged a nurse still administered the MMR vaccine to the boy even though the parents did not give permission for it. The boy died within one minute after being given the MMR vaccination.

MMR Vaccine Statistics

The MMR Vaccine is usually administered in two doses during a person’s early childhood. It is designed to protect a child against three different diseases. They are rubella, measles, and mumps. It has been estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the MMR vaccine prevents over 5 million deaths annually around the world. In countries where the MMR vaccine is widely used measles and other diseases have almost been completely eradicated. Most countries have experienced a reduction rate of more than 98 percent for children experiencing these diseases.

Official Response

After being made aware of the infant’s deaths, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, the Prime Minister of Samoa, expressed his condolences to the families of the victims. He announced a full inquiry will be conducted to determine the exact circumstances that caused such a devastating incident. He also stated there is currently a process in place to discover if negligence played a role in the deaths. The Prime Minister also stated if negligence is determined to have occurred, there is a plan in place to make certain this does not happen again. He also let it be known those responsible will have to answer for what they have done. The Samoan director of general health put an immediate stop to their vaccination program. This will remain effective until all official inquiries are completed. Since the deaths are being investigated by law enforcement, forensic autopsies will be performed. The hospital workers involved with the incident have been removed from their position for their own safety.


This MMR vaccine is licensed to only be used with children who are between 12 months and 12 years old. Most countries recommend children get the MMR vaccine. It is advised children get two doses of the vaccine. The initial dose should be administered when the child is between 12 and 15 months old. The second dose is recommended to be administered when a child is between 4 and 6 years old. It’s also important for all teens and adults to be current with their MMR vaccinations.

Helen Petousis-Harris is a vaccinologist from the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She told media outlets there is current safety data on the MMR vaccine. The effects of it are very well known. Petousis-Harris also said the type of incidents like what happened in Samoa is very rare.

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