A measles vaccination campaign has left 15 children dead, some as young as 2 years old, as a direct result of their vaccine administration.A government inquiry has found that unsafe vaccines were the cause of death for fifteen children, all under the age of 5 years old, with dozens more left sickened in the rural town of Kapoeta in South Sudan early last month.
The vaccinations were carried out by the country’s Ministry of Health, who also vaccinated 300 other children.Aside from the fatalities, another 32 children were left ill with fever, diarrhea, and vomiting following the vaccination.
The vaccines were provided by UNICEF, with funding and technical advice from the World Health Organization (WHO).Natural News reports: An investigation carried out by the National Adverse Events Following Immunization Committee (AEFI) revealed that severe sepsis and toxicity resulting from the contaminated vaccine were the main causes of deaths in children.The AEFI report found that the vaccination team did not adhere to the WHO’s immunization safety standards.
According to the report, the team that vaccinated the children were neither qualified nor trained for the campaign.The report also revealed that a single reconstitution syringe was used for multiple vaccine vials for the entire duration of the campaign instead of discarding it after a single use. This lead to the contamination of the vials and the subsequent infection in children.In addition, the report found that the vaccination team did not follow the WHO’s cold chain protocols as specified in the Measles Supplementary Immunization Activities guidelines.According to the report, the vaccines were stored in a building with no cold chain facility for four days, thus affecting the quality of the vaccines.
A WHO spokesperson said the organization released a field book that underscored the importance of training and hygienic practices in immunization.The spokesperson also said that the WHO will take measures to prevent the same crisis in the future.“The WHO role in vaccination training extends only to training the county or hub supervisor. The training protocols that are used for training the county or hub supervisor are expected to be used to train at the lower levels…In particular, WHO will be examining how we select, supervise and manage the training of all those involved in vaccination campaigns in South Sudan to prevent or mitigate this type of tragedy in the future,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic was quoted in saying in LATimes.com.
“Ministry of Health, WHO, and UNICEF express our deep regret and sadness at the passing of the children. This tragic event could have been prevented by adhering to WHO immunization safety standards…Vaccination is one of the most basic and critical health needs in emergencies to protect populations from the risk of contracting deadly but preventable diseases. The risk of measles and other Vaccine Preventable Diseases in South Sudan remains extremely high because of the challenges being faced by the health system.
The country has experienced significant measles outbreaks among unprotected population caused by a backlog of unvaccinated children in areas of insecurity,” a joint statement by the WHO and UNICEF read.The Ministry of Health has tapped a multi-agency administrative committee to assess the AEFI report and provide appropriate recommendations for further actions to improve immunization service delivery.