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Monday, July 27, 2009

Vaccines - Dire/Fatal Effects On Recently Injected Zimbabwe Children

July 05, 2009
Ministry looks into vaccine effects
Itai Mazire

THE Government has intensified investigations into reports of prolonged side effects among children who were recently immunised against the major child killer diseases.

This comes amid unconfirmed reports that some of the vaccine batches had fatal effects on a number of children in various areas across the country. Speaking in an interview yesterday, the Acting Secretary for Health and Child Welfare, Dr Christopher Tapfumaneyi, confirmed that investigations were in progress, but added that they had not received any reports of fatalities.

He said the ministry had requested reports from all of the country’s provincial health institutions.

"We have not yet received any death-related cases among young children who were vaccinated and, as a ministry, we have asked for detailed reports from all our health institutions.

"Cases of side effects are expected after vaccination, but they usually last for only two or three days. The recent vaccination programme was aimed at lowering the country’s infant mortality rate," said Dr Tapfumaneyi.

Health Minister Dr Henry Madzorera had earlier said his ministry was aware of the reports of prolonged side effects, adding that investigation teams would be deployed to assess the situation.

"We have been hearing about these cases from media houses and parents, but our health centres have not given us any detailed reports with regard to these claims.

"As a ministry, we are going to carry out investigations to determine if these cases are true. What usually happens is that most children experience a fever that lasts for a day or two after immunisation," said Dr Madzorera.

Early this month the Government authorised a vaccination programme under which over two million children were immunised against measles, tetanus, typhoid, polio, tuberculosis and diphtheria.

The programme targeted children between zero and six years of age. Health experts countrywide commended the programme as a success as the response was good with mothers coming in their thousands to have their children immunised.

However, the usual expected side effects became prolonged among some of the children, leaving parents in a state of panic. A medical practitioner from Harare Central Hospital who spoke on condition of anonymity last week confirmed that they have been treating children who have been experiencing these prolonged side effects.

"We have been receiving cases of children with these drug side effects and most of these cases involve children suffering from chills, nausea, vomiting and few reported cases of diarrhoea," she said.

When The Sunday Mail visited Ruwa Council Clinic last week, parents were heard complaining about the drug’s side effects on their children. A parent at the clinic said that it was now worrying because these cases were being reported in Ruwa, Damofalls and Windsor Park with similar signs and symptoms.

"What worries me is that after the immunisation programme, my son just developed a fever and I have been coming here to get new treatment for my child. I know several other mothers who have reported the same symptoms and we would really like the authorities to investigate the issue," said Mrs Joyce Marumbi.

Dr Madzorera said the ministry’s policy was that children who are sick should not be vaccinated, adding that there was need to confirm whether the affected children did not have previous medical problems.

"It is Government’s policy that we do not vaccinate children who are sick, so there is need for us to launch comprehensive investigations into these allegations," he said.

Dr Tapfumaneyi said these reports were quite worrying because the drugs used in the vaccination were identical to those used in previous campaigns.

"We get our drugs from impeccable sources, who are also responsible for supplying other African countries. Therefore it is quite worrying to receive reports that there are now side effects amongst children," said Dr Tapfumaneyi.

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