WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Doug Domenech today announced $490,000 in funding support to prevent the spread of measles in American Samoa and to help bolster efforts to vaccinate the entire population with the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccination in the territory.
“We are pleased to see that current efforts in American Samoa have been effective in stabilizing and preventing the spread of measles in the territory,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “This funding support will help American Samoa fully achieve their goal of bringing vaccination levels in the territory to 100% and bolster their ongoing efforts.”
“This timely financial assistance will go a long way to address the incurred financial expenditures emanating from the activities implemented to combat and preempt the spread of measles in American Samoa,” said American Samoa Governor Lolo Moliga. “I am truly thankful to the United States Department of the Interior and its Office of Insular and International Affairs for continuing to be very sensitive and responsive to the needs of the Territory of American Samoa.”
As a result of a measles outbreak late last year in other parts of the Pacific and in the neighboring Independent State of Samoa where more than 80 people died from the disease, the U.S. territory declared a state of emergency on November 13, 2019, to protect its residents against the spread of measles. On December 8, 2019, the state of emergency was extended with restrictions on public gatherings and the closure of public and private schools.
As part of its campaign to protect its population, the American Samoa Government (ASG) applied under the Technical Assistance Program for urgent needs funding from the Office of Insular Affairs to supplement an immunization campaign in the territory and conduct other protective measures. As stated by the ASG Department of Health in its application, 82 percent of the population in American Samoa has already been immunized with the MMR vaccination, and funding assistance was requested to provide immunizations for the remaining eighteen percent, or 10,530 people, in the territory. OIA funding will also support the purchase of medical supplies, lab equipment, and border patrol efforts as part of the ASG’s overall strategy to protect residents in the territory. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services continues to be the territory’s primary partner in these efforts.
To date, the total cases of measles confirmed through laboratory results has been eleven. While restrictions on public gatherings have been lifted, and school has resumed, the territory remains in a continued state of public health emergency and anyone traveling to the territory is required to provide proof of MMR vaccination as a condition for entry.
Full text of the American Samoa Government Declaration of Public Health Emergency (pdf), dated November 13, 2019.
Full text of the American Samoa Government Declaration of Continued Public Health Emergency (pdf), dated December 8, 2019.
The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.