Nearly 114 children were rushed to a hospital in Hooghly district of West Bengal on Sunday, after health workers administered wrong vaccines to them.
The incident took place in one of the polio booths situated at the Khatul village. As Sunday was observed as Pulse Polio Day, hundreds of parents rushed their little ones to receive polio drops.
However, during the campaign, one of the parents, Ganga Ruidas, noticed that the health workers were administering vaccines stored in a phial with the Hepatitis B vaccine labeled on it. Unfortunately, a significant number of children had already received the wrong vaccine and started showing reactions like vomiting and sweating, The Times of India reported.
Hepatitis B vaccine is taken via injection, to protect against the hepatitis B virus that can cause liver damage and death. On the other hand, polio drops are administered orally.
Enraged villagers locked up the health workers and rushed the sick children to the Arambagh Sub-Divisional Hospital.
Doctors who treated the children assured that the Hepatitis B vaccine is completely harmless and does not pose any health risk to the children. Some of the children have already been discharged from the hospital, while some are still under the medical observation.
Considering the negligence involved in the case, authorities have suspended five health workers and one anganwadi worker, PTI reported.
"Giving hepatitis B vaccine orally will not cause any health problem in the children. But the fear is that people will lose faith in the medical system and the immunisation programme. We need to be extremely cautious while giving any kind of medicine to children," Senior paediatrician Dr Apurba Ghosh, who's also the director of the Institute of Child Health, told TOI.
Efforts to eradicate polio from across the world have been on for a long time. According to the World Health Organisation, 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated against polio in the last 12 years which helped prevent 8.5 million polio cases.
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