PESHAWAR: Various children in Peshawar fell ill on Monday after allegedly been vaccinated for polio as they were complaining of dizziness and vomiting, according to the reports.
Reports said around 100 children suffering from dizziness were brought to the City Hospital while the other 20 were taken to other hospitals of the city. The number of ill children later said to be increased to 700 whereas they are reportedly now in stable condition and complaining of minor dizziness.
A nationwide anti-polio vaccination drive started earlier today for the children under five years of age.
The news of ill children caused panic in Peshawar due to which citizens resorted to angry protests and demonstrations all over the city. An angry mob broke the gates and set fire to the building of Mashokhel Hospital in Badha Beer area of Peshawar after staging a protest and damaging property.
Parents of the ill children said the anti-polio vaccine was expired while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan discarded the reports of children being sick due to the vaccine, saying the sickness was “psychological and triggered by panic”.
Addressing a press conference, Dr Khan said, “all the children are in stable condition, in 3,000 children not even one is unstable. One child complains of stomachache and everyone assumes that it is because of polio drops. It was a psychological effect.”
“We have an inquiry report. and the only thing it points towards is panic. The school from where it all started, there should be an investigation against them. These two, three schools had also refused the anti-polio campaign earlier. They did not want drops administered to their students,” Dr Khan said.
Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Babar Bin Atta, while admitting that children were bought to the hospitals, said rumors were spread regarding the vaccine and no child fell sick because of it. He called law enforcement agencies to investigate the rumors.
Talking to the reporters, Hayatabad Medical Complex Medical Director Prof Dr Shahzad Akbar said all 75 students bought to the hospital were given first aid and some of them have already been discharged while others will be discharged soon as they are not in serious condition.
Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) Coordinator Kamran Afridi assured that the vaccine is “tested worldwide” adding, “as a father I also had become concerned but after it was confirmed that there was nothing wrong with the vaccine, I administered two drops each to my own children. I observed my children and I noticed nothing wrong.”
“There can be no reaction to the anti-polio vaccine. The vaccine was not expired and the condition of all the children is normal, ” said Afridi.
“Doctors also said the children did not get a reaction from the vaccine. There are parents in Masho Khel who do not want to administer the drops to their children and they could have felt sick owing to other reasons,” Afridi further said.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, after taking notice of the incident, instructed the KP Health Department to investigate and submit a report of the incident.
According to the National Coordinator of Polio Eradication Programme Dr Rana Safdar, 39 million children from all four provinces including Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan would be targeted during the drive.