The Samoan government will shut down for two days this week amid a measles outbreak that has killed 53 people, according to the Washington Post.
The island nation declared the outbreak in October. The vast majority of the deaths — 48 — have been children under the age of 3. More than 3,700 people have been infected overall.
“All public service and all government services will be closed” December 5 and 6 “in order to allow all public servants to assist with the mass vaccination campaign throughout the country,” Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi said Sunday.
The country has engaged in a concerted effort to vaccinate its population ahead of the closure, inoculating more than 58,000 people with a focus on young children and women of childbearing age. The Samoan government has also banned children from large public gatherings, according to the Post.
Vaccination coverage has been on the decline in Samoa over the last six years and stood at only 31 percent before the outbreak. The 2018 deaths of two babies whose vaccines were mixed incorrectly heightened fears about vaccinations, according to the Post.
“Let us work together to encourage and convince those that do not believe that vaccinations are the only answer the epidemic,” Tuilaepa said Sunday, according to the POst. “Let us not be distracted by the promise of alternative cures.”