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Anti-vaxxer arrested in Samoa as measles outbreak claims over 60 lives

Published Dec 8th, 2019 1:50PM EST
anti-vaxxer arrested
Image: Shutterstock

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The island nation of Samoa is in the midst of a measles outbreak that shows no signs of slowing down. Thousands of been infected and over 60 people have already died. Most of the deaths are in children under four years of age, and the government of Samoa has shut down in an effort to direct all available resources to a widespread vaccination campaign.

Now, with anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists continuing to spread propaganda across social media, law enforcement has decided to take action against those who are actively fighting against health officials and their efforts to combat the disease.

The official Facebook page of the Samoan government has been active in the fight against the measles outbreak, directing citizens to locations where they can receive vaccinations and issuing updates. Some in the country aren’t on board with the vaccination campaign and one man, in particular, has taken it upon himself to spread anti-vaccination propaganda on social media.

After already warning the man that he was skating on thin ice, officers arrested him this week and charged him with “incitement against the government vaccination order,” according to a statement by the Samoan government.

The statement reads, in part:

The allegation is that the individual, publicly stated with reference to the current vaccination drive “I’ll be here to mop up your mess. Enjoy your killing spree.” The AG confirmed that “this person who had previously been warned by the Police, has been charged and his bail is opposed for risk of reoffending.” He is therefore in custody until the first available court date.

Much of the anti-vaccination movement in Samoa is blamed on the deaths of two young children who died shortly after receiving their measles vaccines in early 2018. The government shut down its vaccine program and investigated, eventually reaching the conclusion that a different medication, incorrectly administered, was to blame for their deaths.

By the time vaccinations resumed, many in the country were fearful of the treatment. Parents across the country opted to not have their children vaccinated. Today, the country is paying the price and infections are claiming the lives of dozens of children.