Expired measles vaccines have claimed three lives in the Swat district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where health authorities are already struggling to remove misconceptions about polio vaccination.
As many as 3,000 children were administered expired polio vaccines in South Waziristan Agency in May this year. Later health authorities confirmed the vaccines were ineffective, not hazardous.
This time, however, expired vaccines administered to immunise six children against measles in Swat resulted in half of them losing their lives and the rest falling critically ill.
A dispensary has been setup at the preventive vaccination centre in the Banjot Manglawar area to immunise children against measles. Six children taken there started shivering and vomiting soon after the counteragent was administered to them.
They were then driven to the Saidu Group of Teaching Hospital. One of them died on way, two expired at the hospital, and the rest were hospitalised in a critical condition.
“I took my daughter who was already suffering from measles to the dispensary, but was told she cannot be vaccinated. I was then asked to bring other children from my family,” Muhammad Ali, a resident of the area, told The Express Tribune at the hospital.
“We brought two other children to the dispensary. They were vaccinated by the staff. My nephew died soon after, while my second daughter became critically ill,” he added.
Another resident, Shafiullah has also lost a young family member. “The medics are unable to diagnose the problem. They are unable to find out what caused the death of one of my children,” he said. Shafiullah’s niece, who was also affected by the expired vaccine, was hospitalised.
Conditions at the children’s ward of the hospital were pathetic as some ailing children were lying on the floor for want of space while others, in a better condition, were loitering around.
“All the children were treated at the emergency ward. They have symptoms of hepatitis. However, we haven’t been able to diagnose the problem because we don’t know anything about the vaccines they were given,” said Dr Alladin.
Dr Khurshid, the executive district officer (health), said an inquiry has been ordered into the matter. “Strict action will be taken against those found guilty in light of the inquiry report,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2012.
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