|October 10, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—FALEOMAVAEGA WORKS WITH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER MISA TELEFONI TO ASSIST WITH RUBELLA OUTBREAK IN SAMOA|
Faleomavaega announced today that Mrs. Flo Uhrle, wife of Dr. Fred Uhrle,
contacted him and requested assistance in obtaining medicine to assist
with the rubella outbreak in the Independent State of Samoa where it has
been reported that four children have already died.
“Upon receiving this information, I called the Samoa Embassy and spoke with the Deputy Prime Minister, Misa Telefoni, who is presently in New York City,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “The Deputy Prime Minister confirmed that there is a serious problem with rubella and whatever assistance my office could provide would be appreciated.”
“At this time, I have contacted the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, which was aware of the problem, and four CDC officials will be arriving in American Samoa on Monday September 13, 2003. Because American Samoa is only about 40 miles away from Samoa, the CDC team will be assessing American Samoa’s situation. I have also asked the team to visit the Independent State of Samoa and the CDC has agreed to do this if Samoa wishes.”
“For now, the CDC has informed my office that American Samoa has vaccine but the Independent State of Samoa does not. When CDC officials arrive in American Samoa, they will make sure our vaccine supplies are adequate. They will also provide us with technical assistance and raise awareness about rubella prevention.”
“If American Samoa requires additional supplies of vaccine, funding for the purchase of the vaccine will be provided by the CDC. Vaccine for the Independent State of Samoa will be provided by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO),” the Congressman said. “As of today, my office has spoken to UNICEF and in a letter dated October 10, 2003, I asked UNICEF to expedite Samoa’s request for vaccine.”
“Given the seriousness of this situation, I want to thank Mrs. Flo Uhrle for bringing this matter to my attention and I also want to thank the Deputy Prime Minister for aggressively working to resolve this problem. I also want to commend our local health department officials and our immunization coordinator. Thanks to their efforts, American Samoa has an immunization program in place to protect our children from serious childhood diseases like rubella.”
“Nevertheless, we must be cautious. If you are a parent with a child between 12 and 15 months, please make sure your child has received the first dose of the rubella vaccine contained in the MMR vaccination. A second vaccination is needed when children begin school. Some adults may also need to be immunized and this is why I am pleased that the CDC is sending a team to provide us with the technical assistance we may need.”
“Once again, I want to encourage everyone to use caution and to take this matter seriously. Rubella is a respiratory disease caused by a virus and symptoms include a rash and fever for two to three days. Rubella is spread by coughing and sneezing. If acquired by pregnant women, rubella can cause birth defects, including deafness, cataracts, heart defects, mental retardation, and liver and spleen damage to the fetus if a woman is infected early in pregnancy.”
“If you have questions or concerns, please contact our local health officials. The CDC will be providing our health officials with additional information on how to manage outbreaks and how to raise awareness about the need to be immunized. The CDC will also provide our local health department with enhanced training, if necessary. Finally, I sincerely hope that officials from both Samoa and American Samoa will monitor this very closely and that supplies of vaccination will be provided to Samoa as soon as possible,” the Congressman concluded.
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