World Health Organization and UNICEF Pacific statement on the deaths of two children in Samoa after MMR vaccine

UNICEF and the WHO are deeply concerned about the deaths of two children in Samoa last week after they received a routine Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. The deaths of these two children is a tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and the people of Samoa.

A government-led investigation including autopsies is underway, and until it is complete, we will not know the cause of this tragedy. As a precaution, the Government of Samoa has suspended all MMR vaccinations across the country pending the outcome of this investigation. We are working closely with the Government of Samoa to support an investigation into this tragic event.

The MMR vaccine, which has been used in Samoa since 2009, is regularly assessed for safety and quality and is prequalified by WHO and procured by UNICEF. The MMR vaccine protects children from measles, mumps, and rubella, which are viral diseases associated with significant illness and death in children around the world. It is the best way to reduce a child’s risk of getting these highly infectious diseases and is widely used around the world in the routine immunization schedules of many countries. When used according to WHO-approved immunization safety standards, the MMR vaccine is safe and effective.

A robust immunization programme is vital to protect children as it is one of the most cost effective public health interventions to protect children against preventable childhood illnesses. 

For more information, please contact:
UNICEF Pacific: Cate Heinrich, Tel: +679 9925 606, cheinrich@unicef.org
UNICEF Australia: James Nichols, Tel: +61 0435 206 273, jnichols@unicef.org.au
WHO: Benedicte Pascale Galichet, WHO, Tel: +679 7779 733, galichetb@who.int