Bhopal, March 14: Four babies have died after being given anti-measles shots at a government vaccination camp in Madhya Pradesh, prompting the arrest of a doctor and a nurse amid fears that expired drugs had been used.
Gaurav Vishwakarma (nine months), Karnika Thakur (11 months) and Rohini (13 months) died yesterday, one day after being given the vaccines at the Anganwadi Kendra camp in Damoh.
Nine-month-old Arman Vishwakarma — one of 10 babies hospitalised in a serious condition — died this morning, police said.
There was no official word on the vaccines, but Bhopal-based officials of the state government’s health and family welfare department, which runs the camps, hinted that the vaccine samples may have been past their expiry dates. The additional district magistrate has been asked to prepare a report on the cause of the deaths.
Victim Gaurav’s mother Gauri said the babies developed diarrhoea and their health deteriorated rapidly after the vaccine was administered. Gaurav and two others were dead by the time they had been taken to the Damoh district hospital.
“I was told a measles vaccination camp was being organised at the kendra. I took my son to the camp where he was administered the vaccine,” said Gauri, still struggling to come to terms with the death of her child.
At this time last year, many babies in the Sagar division of the state, of which Damoh is a part, had contracted measles. So, this time, there was enthusiastic response to the vaccination drive. Many families from far-flung areas of the district hired vehicles to travel to the camp.
The arrested doctor-nurse duo, who had given the injections, have been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, said the Damoh additional superintendent of police, Mukesh Shrivastav.
“Prima facie, it appears a case of criminal negligence. Action will taken against the officials, as well as the distributor and controller of the vaccine.”
Dr Anupam Kulshetra, who was in charge of the district vaccination programme, and A.N.M. Saraswati Nair, who had charge of the vaccine depot, have been suspended, officials said this evening. The action came after health director A.N. Mittal and other senior officials reached Damoh.
Some reports suggested irregularities in the overnight storage of the vaccine samples.
Mittal and state minister Jayant Malaviya visited the hospitalised babies and met the families of the dead.
The government has promised Rs 10,000 for the family of each baby being treated in hospital.