A young New Zealand-based couple who lost two babies in two years have been dealt another blow as they continue to seek answers into the cause of their children's deaths.
Christine and Karl Laulu, originally from Samoa, are still grieving the loss of their children - son Jamie Ray and daughter Alana-Rae - who died within days of receiving a measles, mumps and rubella vaccination in the island nation.
Jamie Ray died in 2016 after getting an MMR shot and his sister would suffer the same fate almost two years later.
Their parents have stayed in Auckland since April, when they arrived with a severely ill Alana-Rae after seeking assistance from the Samoan Government to get medical help for her in New Zealand.
They are also still waiting to get genetic testing done to see whether a cause may be identified.
The Laulu children died before news broke of two 1-year-old babies who died shortly after getting an MMR vaccination at Safotu District Hospital, on the island of Savaii, in early July.
A Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of those two children - Lannacallystah Samuelu and Lameko Si'u - is taking place in Samoa this week.
Public submissions and those from a number of organisations, including Samoa's Ministry of Health and the Samoa Registered Nurses Association, are being accepted.
But the Laulu family has had their request to appear before the Commission knocked back by Samoan authorities.
In an email from Samoa's Attorney General to the couple's Auckland-based lawyer, Leuluaiali'i Olinda Woodroffe, the family was told: "After consideration, I respectfully advise that although the Commission deeply appreciates what you propose to contribute to its inquiry, the Commission however feels that your proposed contribution will not be relevant to its limited terms of reference as directed by Cabinet.''
Woodroffe said the fact the inquiry would not include the deaths of the Laulu siblings - who died in very similar circumstances - was a narrow-minded approach to the investigation that has seen all MMR vaccines seized in Samoa.
"I think it's sad that they didn't extend their inquiry to include two children of the same family who died soon after [getting vaccinated].
"It looks as though because it's news from New Zealand, Samoa is turning a blind eye to two parents who have lost two children after being [vaccinated]."
Woodroffe said it was important to realise that there may be other unreported cases like this in Samoa but that, for some reason, those families had not come forward.
"This is about the lives of people.''
Woodroffe said earlier that a Starship Hospital report indicated Alana-Rae may have had a genetic condition that was a factor in her death also.
The paediatric doctor's report seen by the Herald shows that the Laulus at one point asked whether an MMR vaccination caused Alana-Rae's then illness.
"I explained that vaccinations had been reported as triggering genetic [disease], but vaccines do not cause inherited mutations that are responsible for familial [disease],'' the report said.
The family's lawyer has now written to Starship children's hospital asking for further information about how their children died.