Syrian children die in measles vaccination mishap

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At least 15 Syrian children have died and many others taken ill in Idlib province after they were injected with a contaminated measles vaccine.

Initial investigations by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that a muscle relaxing compound was used to reconstitute the measles vaccine.

WHO says majority of the children who died were below the age of two years and that as many as 50 children were sickened following the bungled immunization.

Christian Lindmeier from WHO says the immunization campaigns in Idlib and Dier Ezzour provinces have now been suspended.

The organization together with the United Nations Children Fund UNICEF and medical authorities in the areas are conducting thorough investigations to determine if the incident was accidental or deliberate.

“Until the origin of this can be confirmed and the source of the contamination can be eliminated we would not recommend to restart this campaign. The biggest challenge will be to restore confidence and trust into the population because measles vaccination is a very important campaign and especially in a conflict torn country is of high importance and we need to move with partners as soon as possible to continue with this campaign, but it will be a challenge.” 

WHO says measles is a particular threat to Syrian children who have been displaced from their homes and communities, and who are living in camps or other unhygienic conditions.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 1.34″

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