The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Death shadow on polio drive

Behrampore, Oct. 1: The push against polio in Murshidabad’s Jangipur sub-division, the state’s polio reservoir, suffered a serious setback after a child died following Sunday’s intensive oral polio vaccination drive.

Two-and-a-half-year-old Sudip Das died at the Jangipur sub-divisional hospital yesterday. The boy was administered the oral vaccine last Sunday, the first day of the three-day special pulse polio programme. “After we gave him the vaccine, Sudip’s health began to deteriorate. He developed high temperature and at night, he began vomiting and was dehydrated,” Sudip’s father, Basudeb, said.

The district’s chief medical officer of health Bijon Kumar Mondal said he had instructed officials to make inquiries. “I was told by the Jangipur hospital that the child was admitted with acute diarrhoea and had died of the same cause. But news has spread that the child died due to the vaccine. I have asked the sub-divisional health officer to go to the child’s home and make inquiries,” Mondal said.

Basudeb said when he took his son to the hospital, doctors told him he would be admitted for only treatment of diarrhoea, not any other reason. “I tried telling them that my son’s health deteriorated after the vaccination, but they told me if I did not want him treated for diarrhoea, I could take my son somewhere else.”

Residents of Mathurapur village, Sudip’s home, are convinced that the child’s death was due to the polio vaccine. “The child was running a fever, but those who administered the vaccine did not warn the parents,” said Rabi Das, a village elder.

Eminent child specialist of the district, Abdul Kalam, said the government circular says the oral vaccine should be administered to children irrespective of whether they are ill or not. “The persons in charge of the polio camps were correct in following the government circular. From what I can surmise, the child could have died even if he had not been given the vaccine,” Kalam said.

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