Samoa began a two-day shutdown Thursday as authorities set out on a mass immunization campaign in an attempt to curb an unprecedented outbreak of measles that has killed 62 people, mostly small children. The government told public and private workers to stay home for the next two days, ordered all businesses to close, and canceled all inter-island ferries. Officials told residents to stay home, and to display a red flag if they were not yet vaccinated against the disease so that mobile vaccination teams could bring shots for those who are unvaccinated. “I’ve seen mass mobilization campaigns before, but not over an entire country like this,” UNICEF's Pacific Island chief Sheldon Yett told Agence-France Presse. “That’s what we’re doing right now. This entire country is being vaccinated.” The government said Thursday that 165 new cases had been reported in the last 24 hours, as the death toll rose to 62. Fifty four of the dead were babies and young children aged 4 and under, officials said. Al Jazeera reports that the small island nation’s vaccination rate was at about 30 percent prior to the outbreak, and is now at about 55 percent. Yett told the AFP that the aim of the two-day drive is to bring rates above 90 percent.
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