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When Vaccine Turns Killer

A recent immunisation drive in rural Bihar went horribly wrong. What all ails the health mission?

When Vaccine Turns Killer
Bereaved | Photograph by Jitender Gupta
When Vaccine Turns Killer
outlookindia.com
2017-05-20T09:24:41+05:30

Under the bright summer sun, melan­choly pervades Pat­ori in north-west Bihar. If the lush lit­chi plantations across Muzaffarpur district are in anticipation of pre-monsoon showers, the people of this village in Aurai block are waiting for justice, having suffered an unexpected tragedy this month. They lost three babies, allegedly due to complications in vacci­nes administered for measles and Japanese encephalitis. Altogether nine children between the ages of 12 to 18 months fell sick after being served with the preparation under the union government’s universal immunisation programme (UIP).

Of the three children who died, Sonu Kumar and Raja Babu reportedly fell sick within hours of being administered the vaccines. “Their arms turned black,” says Gunaur Sahani, the father of Sonu Kumar. “They had high fever and vomited several times after the vaccination.” Sahani claims he got no response to rep­eated calls to resident ASHA (acc­redited social health activist) worker Shakuntala Devi. Finding little improvement in the...

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