22 November 2019
Health Minister Brad Hazzard has praised NSW Health staff deployed to help Australian and New Zealand medical teams combat a deadly measles outbreak in Samoa.

“This is a tragic situation facing the people of Samoa, and I am very pleased NSW Health can offer our Pacific neighbours urgent medical help,” Mr Hazzard said.

“I want to personally thank the dedicated team of doctors and nurses who are going to Samoa to join the Commonwealth response team to help with vaccinations and treating those infected. You all do amazing work.”

With infections rising, Samoa has declared a state of emergency. Sixteen children have died and up to 300 others are infected.

The current deployment from NSW left for Samoa last week and are expected to be in the country for at least a fortnight.

Ministry of Health Epidemiologist Dr Sean Tobin is working on the ground with Paediatric Intensive care Nurses, Dominic Sertori, from Sydney Children’s Hospital Westmead, and Lynette Hagarty, an Aeromedical Flight Nurse from NSW Ambulance.

Given the risk of measles being imported, travellers should ensure they are vaccinated. The current outbreak is believed to have started in New Zealand with other pacific nations such as Fiji also affected.

Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease that is highly contagious and spread through the air when someone who is infectious coughs or sneezes. 

NSW Health makes the measles vaccine available free for anyone born during or after 1966 who doesn’t have two documented doses of measles vaccine. 

The NSW Government is investing $130 million in the 2019-20 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.

The Annual Immunisation Coverage Report shows vaccination rates in NSW are at their highest level ever, with more than 95 per cent of five year olds vaccinated against measles. For more information on measles: www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/Measles