Infants given hepatitis-B vaccine instead of polio

Infants given hepatitis-B vaccine instead of polio

West Bengal was again in the news for poor public health management as 114 of 120 children in Hooghly district who had been wrongly vaccinated for hepatitis-B on Sunday were admitted to the state-run hospital. Much of the infants arrived on a steady stream until Monday.

In a dreadful mix-up, public health officials administered hepatitis-B vaccine for the infants who had been brought for polio vaccination. Sources here said five health workers and an Anganwadi worker were suspended for negligence.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee –who holds the health portfolio- is yet to blame the negligence on the opposition conspiracy, but state Secretariat believe that could be the official stand until heads roll.

Without specific charges against health officials, the department is awash with conspiracy theories as to how the vials had been replaced to malign the ruling Trinamool Congress.

Sunday being Pulse Polio day, parents had taken their children to a polio booth at Khatul village in Hooghly, around 60 Km from Kolkata. One of the parents noticed that the health workers were orally administering the hepatitis-B vaccine instead of polio vaccine and pointed to the mistake instantly.

The damage seem to have been done by then, as 120 children were administered the wrong vaccine by then.

As children started to vomit and sweat when brought to the hospital as a result of getting hepatitis-B vaccine orally, which should be actually injected, the medical superintendent at the state-run hospital said. told reporters that the vaccine is unlikely to cause any harm to children.

“Most of the children have been discharged after keeping them under observation for sometime,” Nirmalya Ray said.

Agreeing with Ray, noted paediatrician Prashanta Banerjee said that there would be no long-term damages besides initial discomfort, since hepatitis-B vaccine’s strength is not suitable for infants.

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