Measles-Rubella vaccine deaths give Uttar Pradesh a scare

The state administration has appealed to the Indian Medical Association to spread awareness about the vaccine and help reduce fear

By Jyoti Pandey
Published: Monday 10 December 2018
The five-week-long drive aims at vaccinating 41 crore children. Credit: Getty Images

After Gujarat and Punjab, now Uttar Pradesh has lost two children to Measles-Rubella vaccination and several other schoolchildren have fallen sick in Pilibhit and Shahjahanpur districts.

School administrations are now so scared to organise such drives that the government has sought help from the Indian Medical Association to spread awareness among people.

The vaccination drive was launched in UP on January 26 and the same day several cases of children falling sick were reported from various parts of the state. While Kanpur saw admission of 100 school-going children in hospitals, Shahjahanpur reported 30 such cases, Lakhimpur Kheri 22, Mainpuri 12, Unnao 29, Firozabad four and Mahoba and Tundla reported eight cases each.

After both Pilibhit and Shahjahanpur lost one kid each, the health department went into a tizzy. Zainab, 12, a resident of Chandoi village in Pilibhit, fell sick the day after she got vaccinated. She was admitted to a hospital right after she started puking, but she died.

Similarly, Shahjahanpur's Chandpur village saw eight-year-old Prince fall ill two and a half hours after he got the vaccine. He also started puking and the same night he was declared dead, says his father Sudhir Dikshit.

Earlier, Punjab had also witnessed a girl die and several other fall sick. After the death in Bhatinda, the vaccination drive was halted. Even in Gujarat, the kin of the two schoolchildren who died blamed the vaccine for the deaths. The protests forced the state government to launch an investigation.

As the tension rose, state administration asked the IMA to send doctors to talk to people and spread awareness about the vaccine. After this, several private medical practitioners were also seen putting up informative posts about the vaccine on social media. School kids also took out a rally in Shahjahanpur to boost the awareness efforts.

Rajesh Agarwal, president of IMA Bareilly and a paediatrician, says the vaccination drive was kicked off only after the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the health department conducted experiments on it.

He adds that the fear of injections is also makiing kids fall sick and they should not be vaccinated if they are already suffering from fever.

District immunisation officer Deepa Singh says that every child is kept in school for a half hour after being given the vaccine, which is absolutely safe.

The five-week-long drive aims at vaccinating 41 crore children, who fall in the 9-15 years age group. The first leg of the drive took place in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry and covered 3.3 crore children. The second leg included Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana and Uttarakhand, where 3.4 crore children were vaccinated. The thrid leg is on and it aims at covering 8 crore children in UP's 75 districts.

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