Srinagar: A regular polio drops campaign went haywire with rumours of children dying after the vaccination spread fast creating panic across Kashmir valley.
Frantic parents were seen streaming into nearby clinics and hospitals, demanding their children be checked for signs of illness.
The trouble started when rumours erupted that children have developed signs of illness after being administered polio vaccines. Thousands of parents across Kashmir valley rushed their children to hospitals and created mayhem in the hospitals.
Despite, assurances from doctors and health officials that vaccines were safe, the angry mob of parents and relatives of children went on a violent spree, breaking windowpanes and glasses of the government run hospitals.
The State Immunization Officer Dr Yangthan Dolma said, “No death has been reported with the pulse polio vaccination from anywhere.”
Dr Dolma said that she has spoken to all 10 Chief Medical Officers of Kashmir and that there has been no adverse report from anywhere.
“These are just rumours. I request people to have faith in this 20-year-old vaccination programme,” said Dr Dolma.
The nationwide programme for polio drops began on Sunday morning and there were no reports of any untoward incidents, till somebody spread the rumour of deaths due to polio vaccination. The campaign saw 19.5 lakh children being administered polio drops in J&K. From Monday, the Health Department would launch a two days door to door campaign for vaccination.
Doctors in different primary centres across Kashmir were seen explaining to panicked parents that vaccines were safe. They assured there were no vaccine-related deaths in the State. Almost all children, who were admitted in the hospital after the rumours, were discharged.
Announcements were made in mosques and through public address systems assuring public that no one has died due to polio vaccination.
Health department reached to people through print, electronic and online media to assure them that nothing adverse has been reported due to polio vaccination. “The most successful public health programme in two decades preventing children from dreadful poliomyelitis had biggest support from parents itself braving harsh weather. But today rumour mongers sabotaged it so badly that our very young under-five children are hoarded towards hospitals unnecessarily exposing them to chill that may cause adverse health issues,” the head of the department, Social and Preventive Medicine in GMC Srinagar, Dr Muhammad Saleem Khan wrote on his Facebook account.
Medical Superintendent of Kashmir’s premier childcare hospital, GB Pant, Dr Shafqat Khan said that rumours suggesting death of children due to pulse polio vaccination are baseless. “Polio vaccines are 100 per cent safe,” Dr Khan said.
Police have directed all district SSPs to “thoroughly and comprehensively investigate” the issue so that people behind rumour mongering will be apprehended and dealt under law. “Tough action under law will be taken against whosoever indulged in spreading rumours of deaths due to polio vaccination,” police spokesperson, Manoj Pandita said.
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