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Among Mumbai children who died of measles, many were unvaccinated

The Indian Express tracked down families of nine of the 16 children who died of measles in Mumbai and nearby areas, Nalasopara and Bhiwandi.

Only one of the nine children was vaccinated, the vaccination status of three is unclear while six-month-old Sakina Usman Ansari died before she could be eligible for her first dose. (Representational/File)

Over the last two months, 16 children, including a five-month-old, lost their lives to measles in Mumbai and nearby areas. While the measles vaccine, given to infants at nine months and 1.5 years and which protects them against the infection, is covered under the national routine immunisation programme, experts and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation attribute the outbreak, and the subsequent deaths, to a combination of factors — from the pandemic that hit regular vaccination drives to vaccine hesitancy.

The Indian Express tracked down families of nine of the 16 children who died of measles in Mumbai and nearby areas, Nalasopara and Bhiwandi. All of them are inhabitants of slums, with four from Rafi Nagar, a slum in Govandi that’s one of the poorest in the city. Only one of the nine children was vaccinated, the vaccination status of three is unclear while six-month-old Sakina Usman Ansari died before she could be eligible for her first dose.

NOORAIN KHAN, 3 years old

Died on October 26 at his home in Rafi Nagar slum, Govandi

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Vaccination status: Unknown. Father claims vaccinated, the BMC denies

Father Abdul Rahim Khan said, “Noorain’s fever started on October 16 and he later got rashes. He stopped eating and couldn’t talk properly. Many told us neem leaves are a cure for this infection, so we made him sleep on a bed of leaves for a week. On October 26, he started gasping for breath. Even before I could take him to hospital, he died,” says Khan, insisting that Noorain was vaccinated. “But when our building was demolished, I lost the vaccine certificate.”

HASNAIN KHAN, 5 years old

Died on October 27 at Rajawadi Hospital

Vaccination status: Unknown. Father claims vaccinated, BMC denies

Father Abdul Rahim Khan, a resident of Rafi Nagar slum in Govandi, said, “My son Hasnain started complaining of breathlessness. I rushed him to Rajawadi Hospital, where he was admitted in the ICU. Within a few seconds, he had a seizure and he died,” said Khan.

FAZAL ALI, 5 years old

Died on October 27 at Rajawadi Hospital

Vaccination status: Unknown. Father claims vaccinated, BMC denies

Father Mohammad Eid Khan, also a resident of Rafi Nagar slum in Govandi, said, “Fazal had a cough and chest congestion, so we took him to hospital. He couldn’t breathe on his own, so he was intubated and kept on a ventilator. The next morning, the doctor said he needs to be intubated again, but she struggled as she did so. During her fourth attempt, Fazal died.”

ALFA IRFAN KHAN, 1 year old

Died on October 13 at Kasturba Hospital

Vaccination status: Unvaccinated

Father Irfan Khan, a resident of Baiganwadi in Govandi, said, “My daughter had fever for a day. Then I took her to a local hospital, which referred her to Kasturba Hospital. But within 24 hours of admission, she died.” On the child’s vaccination status, he said, “I wasn’t even aware that there is a vaccine for measles. No vaccinator came to us in the last one year.”

GHAZI ABBAS, 13 months

Died on October 29 at Kasturba Hospital

Vaccination status: Unvaccinated

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An aunt who spoke for the family that lives in Govandi’s Rafi Nagar slum said, “Ghazi was a premature baby and had health issues, so we couldn’t get him vaccinated. A few months ago, he was hospitalised for a brain issue. As soon as he got discharged, he developed rashes and was taken to Kasturba Hospital, where he recovered. But before he could be discharged, he developed a seizure and was declared dead.”

Adnan Wasi Akhtar Khan, 8 months

Died on November 24 at Kasturba Hospital

Vaccination status: Unvaccinated

Father Wasi Akhtar, a resident of Shivaji Nagar slum in Govandi, said, “Adnan was our first child. Since November 18, he hadn’t been eating well and kept crying. On November 20, we took him to Sion Hospital, from where he was referred to Kasturba, where he was admitted in the ICU. He recovered and was supposed to be discharged the next day but he suddenly died.”

Rayesh Gupta, 1 year

Died on November 21 at Kasturba Hospital

Vaccination status: Unvaccinated

Father Rajendra Gupta, a resident of Nalasopara (Palghar district), said, “On November 5, Rayesh got discharged from a private hospital after recovering from pneumonia. Within two days, he developed rashes on his face which spread all over. We tried fanning him with neem leaves and followed a satvik diet as advised by our relatives but that didn’t help. Then on November 13, he stopped responding and we decided to take him to Kasturba Hospital. Opting for home remedies was a big mistake.”

SAKINA USMAN ANSARI, 6 months old

Died on November 17 at Kasturba Hospital

Vaccination status: Not eligible for first dose

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Mother Tabassum Ansari, a resident of Bhiwandi, said, “When Sakina developed rashes, the local doctor referred her to Kasturba Hospital, where she was put on oxygen support. Her condition improved and the oxygen support was removed. But suddenly, her condition worsened.”

MOHAMMED HASAN, 1 year

Died on November 14 at Kasturba Hospital

Vaccination status: Vaccinated

Father Abdul Samad, a resident of Mumbadevi, said, “Both my twin children were vaccinated when they were nine months old. We were surprised when both of them contracted measles. Although Mohammed’s twin recovered, his condition deteriorated.”

First published on: 04-12-2022 at 04:20 IST
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