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Ministry lifts ban on MMR vaccine

Thursday July 12, 2018 Written by Published in Health
Health secretary Dr Aumea Herman. PHOTO: PMN. 18071105 Health secretary Dr Aumea Herman. PHOTO: PMN. 18071105

The Cook Islands Ministry of Health’s temporary ban on injections of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine has been lifted after it was confirmed that batches of the vaccine in this country are safe.


The suspension followed the tragic death of two children in Samoa.

“The ministry placed a temporary hold on our MMR vaccination programme on Monday afternoon after receiving information about the MMR related deaths in Samoa, and we needed to gather information to determine if our population was at risk,” says Health secretary Dr Aumea Herman.

“This hold was lifted on Monday night when we reviewed information showing that the Cook Islands MMR vaccine vials we use are not the same as those used by Samoa and that the particular batch involved is not in the Cook Islands or the Pacific.”

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation experts arrived in Samoa on Tuesday night to help investigate the deaths of two one-year-old babies who died within two hours of each other at the same hospital after receiving the MMR vaccine. The Cook Islands and Samoa are both supplied with MMR vaccine sourced via the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). CINews understands the vaccine is mass-produced in China.

 “…for an incident like this, it's important that we wait for the information to be collated and that's the investigation that's being undertaken," said Dr Herman.

She said despite the numerous comments online against vaccinations, there was much evidence supporting their benefits in terms of prevention and protection of epidemics and illness.

"Vaccinations have been life-saving for many children across the globe.

"Our condolences go out to the people of Samoa and all the families involved."

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