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Samoa’s most prominent locally based anti-vaccine advocate will stay behind bars as officials go door-to-door vaccinating residents against a massive measles outbreak that has already killed 63—nearly all of whom are children under 4 years old.
Further ReadingMeasles outbreak spurred by anti-vaxxers shuts down Samoan government Officials arrested Edwin Tamasese Thursday, December 5, charging him with "incitement against the Government vaccination order[s]," according to the Samoa Observer. He faces two years in jail.
The arrest came after he allegedly posted a message on social media about the current vaccination campaign that read, "I will be here to mop up your mess. Enjoy your killing spree."
Officials denied Tamasese bail. That means he will spend the remainder of the government’s vaccination campaign in jail, awaiting the next available court date. Police said they had given him written warnings to cease his anti-vaccination rhetoric prior to the arrest. The attorney general's office cited the likelihood that he would reoffend as a reason to deny bail.
Tamasese, a manager of a coconut farmers’ collective in Samoa, is a vocal anti-vaccine advocate who has garnered an international following. Though he has no medical or scientific background, he questions the safety of life-saving vaccinations. He also claims to be a Samoan Taulasea [traditional healer] and falsely says he is able to cure measles with vitamins A and C. (There is no specific treatment for measles.)
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