Monday, 30th October 2017

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3 toddlers die after booster shots, 6 ill

Three children in Palamau district, all of them a year and a half old, died on Sunday within 24 hours of being administered "booster injections" for Japanese encephalitis, measles and DPT at an anganwadi, prompting the chief minister to order a probe.

By Sudhir Kumar Mishra in Ranchi
  • Published 9.04.18
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VACCINE WORRIES: Two of the ailing children at sadar hospital in Palamau on Sunday. Telegraph picture

Ranchi: Three children in Palamau district, all of them a year and a half old, died on Sunday within 24 hours of being administered "booster injections" for Japanese encephalitis, measles and DPT at an anganwadi, prompting the chief minister to order a probe.

Six other toddlers have taken ill since the vaccines were given to them at Loinga village, 40km from the district headquarters and 210km from the state capital, on Saturday. Two of them have been shifted to Sadar Hospital, Daltonganj.

Officiating civil surgeon of Palamau Dr Vijay Kumar Singh said free immunisation programmes at anganwadis were routine every Thursday and Saturday.

"Around 30 children were vaccinated at Loinga yesterday and were also given Vitamin A syrup. Some of them complained of fever and loose motion. Unfortunately, three died at their homes this (Sunday) morning. Others were brought to sadar hospital. Two have been admitted, but their condition is improving," he told this newspaper.

Chief minister Raghubar Das, currently in Dumka, announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to each of the bereaved families, besides ordering the probe. "I am deeply pained by this shocking incident. The guilty will not be spared," he said in a communiqué.

Principal secretary (health) Nidhi Khare said she had formed a two-member inquiry committee comprising the Palamau civil surgeon and the district's reproductive and child health (RCH) officer who is generally responsible for smooth conduct of immunisation programmes.

"Booster dose samples will be sent to Ranchi and Pune for tests," Khare said, but clarified that the deaths should not be linked to the rotavirus immunisation programme that was launched by the CM on Saturday (April 7). "The one in Loinga was a routine immunisation programme."

No one in the district health department could say in what permutation and combination the "booster injections" were administered to the deceased children.

In medical terms, a booster dose is an extra administration of a vaccine after the first or prime dose. It is a re-exposure to the antigen and is intended to increase immunity.

It is being investigated if the children had received their prime doses and, if yes, for which of the mentioned ailments and when.