By Charlotte Karp For Daily Mail Australia and Australian Associated Press
Published: 06:02 GMT, 21 November 2019 | Updated: 06:02 GMT, 21 November 2019
A measles epidemic has prompted a state of emergency in a tourist destination popular with Australians after 16 people died.
The Samoan government declared the month-long state of emergency on Friday after six children died from the highly contagious measles virus, reported RNZ.
There have been at least 16 confirmed deaths with more than 1,170 cases mostly affecting children and babies.
Measles is a highly contagious virus that results in a large rash (stock image of measles)
The government started offering free measles vaccinations to reduce the outbreak in a country where two-out-of-three people are vaccinated, reported 7 News.
Samoan woman Eseta Meki lost her two-year-old son Meki to measles because her family previously couldn't afford vaccines.
'When we got to the hospital gate his body had gone limp and I could feel that his heart was beating very slow,' she told the ABC.