Seven children between 10 and 13 years of age fell ill after being administered the measles-rubella vaccine at the S S Agarwal English Medium School at Dattawadi in Pune on Tuesday. However, officials of the Pune Municipal Corporation’s health department said there were no “adverse events” related to the vaccine and urged parents not to panic.
Shortly after they were administered the vaccine, the children complained of headache and nausea and were kept under observation in a hospital. They were discharged on Tuesday evening.
Dr Ramchandra Hankare, chief of the PMC’s health department, said the children were in stable condition and urged parents not to panic. “We have vaccinated as many as 1.68 lakh children since the campaign got underway and there have been no adverse events,” said Dr Amit Shah, immunisation officer at PMC.
The incident took place after the children were immunised between 12.45 and 1 pm, said Dr Parimal Bhosale, nodal medical officer at Sinhagad Ward. Four girls and three boys experienced headache and nausea, and one of the girls vomited, said Bhosale. The children were taken to the nearby Global Hospital, where they were kept under observation till late in the evening and discharged. Bhosale said parents and school authorities had earlier been told that the children should be fed properly prior to the vaccination. The school had also held a meeting with the parents to inform them about the measles-rubella vaccination.
“We were instructed that we have to ensure the children eat properly before they take the vaccine. But despite taking all the precautions, my daughter’s health deteriorated soon after the vaccine was injected. She couldn’t open her eyes and felt dizzy. She was discharged after one-and-a-half hours,” said Sneha Bhimane, mother of a Class V student.
She added, “I am not sure I will go ahead with the vaccination of my six-year-old son, which is scheduled on December 19”.
A massive campaign to vaccinate 3.37 crore children against measles-rubella started in Maharashtra on November 27. India, along with 10 other World Health Organisation’s South East Asia Region member-countries, has resolved to eliminate measles and control the rubella/congenital rubella syndrome by 2020. With this goal in sight, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has initiated the measles-rubella vaccination campaign, in the age group of 9 months to 15 years, in a phased manner across the country.
PMC health officials admitted that parents were anxious, but stressed that the vaccine was safe and there was no need to panic. Dr Archana Patil, additional director of the state Family Welfare Bureau, said “minor incidents” pertaining to the vaccines have taken place at Solapur, Ratnagiri and Akola. But, she said, all children have responded well to the vaccine and 68 lakh children have been immunised across the state.