December 24, 2008

Rumours of ‘vaccine death’ make thousands rush to hospitals

Panic that was triggered following television reports which claimed that a child had died after being administered polio drops, has jolted the national Pulse Polio programme. The door-to-door campaign on Monday was affected to a large extent across the State and was totally held up in Bangalore owing to the rumours.

Hundreds of parents and relatives of children rushed to hospitals, including private hospitals and clinics nearby. It was on Sunday that the national programme began across the country.

Health Commissioner P.N. Srinivasachari told presspersons here that rumours had affected the progress of the programme. “There is no truth in the rumours which have caused untold misery, hardship and inconvenience to the people, officials and medical practitioners.”

In Bangalore, doctors and health staff at various government hospitals worked without a break from 11 p.m. on Sunday until the early hours on Monday.

After the rumours spread, most parents did not get their wards vaccinated on Monday. To prevent a setback to the programme, the Department of Health and Family Welfare, through various mobile service providers, sent SMSes to random numbers. The messages said: “Polio drops are absolutely safe and no adverse effects reported from anywhere in the State. Request you to not pay any attention to rumours spread on polio drops.”

Close to 5,000 anxious parents thronged each of the various government hospitals on Sunday night. The police had to be called in to control the mob at many places.

The reported death of a two-year-old girl in a village in Shahapur taluk of Gulbarga district, nearly 18 hours after being administered polio drops, resulted in more panic among the people . The District Health and Family Welfare Officer, Nalini Namoshi, clarified that the death of the child had nothing to do with the Pulse Polio campaign, and it was due to health complications.

In Mysore and adjoining areas, a large number of panic-stricken parents and relatives took their children to hospitals following rumours.

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