Around five children fainted in Mardan on Saturday after being injected with the measles vaccine, creating panic in the area.
According to local reports, the government’s measles vaccination drive was under way in Ghala Dher on the outskirts of Mardan where hundreds of children were vaccinated. However, five children fainted in the village and reported a fever which created panic and caused parents to be reluctant in allowing health teams to vaccinate their children.
Expanded Programme on Immunisation Mardan In charge Dr Niaz said he was not aware of the incident but presumed the children might have fainted due to the fear of the injection. “Fever is a common occurrence following the injection of the measles vaccine,” claimed Dr Niaz.
Parents refuse vaccine
On Friday, the measles drive came to an end in Hangu, Swabi and Shangla districts when parents refused to get their children vaccinated from the health teams, following several incidents of children fainting after receiving the shots.
Over 80 children fainted in Thal, Hangu, 70 fainted in Swabi and 15 in Shangla after they were administered the measles injection.
Thal resident Amanullah said there were rumours that the vaccine is expired and being administered by untrained staff which is why the adverse reactions are occurring.
A report issued by the K-P Directorate of Health on Thursday stated that the deaths of four children this past Wednesday was caused by untrained staff administering the vaccine.
He added that people fear the administering of the vaccine could lead to the death of their children and are no longer immunising them. “The government turns its back to every issue and to this as well, why should we put the lives of our children in danger,” he questioned.
Gul Muhammad Khan, a resident of Karbogha, said he would not let untrained people give the vaccine to his children. “Our children are fainting, complaining of headache, nausea and fever while the government and health officials claim everything is alright,” he said. Khan further said the disease may not kill the children but the injections would.
Hangu DHO Dr Azam Wazir claimed the children are fainting due to psychological stress. “We have vaccinated 0.13 million children in Hangu but now people have begun resisting because the vials of the medicine were made in India,” he further said.
Till May 29, five children had died across the province reportedly after the injection of the measles vaccine. Health Minister Shahram Khan Tarakai has formed an investigation committee comprising local and foreign health experts to probe the deaths.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2014.