DERA ISMAIL KHAN:
Over 3,000 children – below the age of five years – have been immunised with expired polio vaccines in Shakai Valley, about 30km north of Wana Bazaar in South Waziristan Agency, an official of the political administration has revealed.
Senior official Aslam Jawed, who seized the expired polio vaccines in Shakai himself, told The Express Tribune: “During the June 14 and 15 polio campaign, 200 polio vials which contained expired polio drops were given to children in Sanga, Manthoi, Mandatta and Landi Noor areas of Shakai. Each vial was used to administer drops to 15 to 18 children. In total at least 3,000 children have been given the expired polio vaccine.”
Jawed further said that the expired vials were seized and submitted along with a report to the office of the assistant political agent of Wana Sub-division, adding that the expiry date written on the vials was May, 2012.
When contacted, the assistant political agent’s office confirmed to The Express Tribune that a report about the expired polio vials has been received. It was revealed that the office will launch an investigation to find out the reasons behind the ‘serious’ incident.
Effects on children
The expired drops seemed to have affected a number of children.
Regarding his son’s health, Muhammad Nawaz Khel, resident of Landi Noor, Shakai said that on June 14 a polio team came to his house and his two year and nine month old son, Shah Zeb, was given the expired polio drops.
That night Zeb’s temperature started rising rapidly and early in the morning he had to be shifted to the Noor Muhammad Medical Clinic in Wana Bazaar.
“Doctors at the clinic told us that he has developed a chest infection,” the father said.
Khel added: “In the morning we came to know that children in other houses of Landi Noor were also suffering from high fever. But we never thought that they were getting sick because of the polio vaccination.
“We are willing to immunise our children but we do not want to kill them by giving them expired vaccines. An investigation should be launched to find out how this could happen.”
Meanwhile, South Waziristan Agency Surgeon Shar Zali Khan was contacted several times for comments but to no avail. Sources said that government departments at first tried to keep this incident a secret. But days later it became public knowledge as stricken children were brought to clinics in Shakai and Wana Bazaar.
South Waziristan is one of the seven tribal agencies where the polio virus has not been eliminated. Earlier, polio virus (P-1) was confirmed in a four-year-old in Panj Gena, Tehsil Birmal, Wana sub-division.
Published in The Express Tribune, 25th, 2012.