Fake WhatsApp message on polio vaccine returns

Last Updated 27 September 2019, 11:58 IST

A fake message from last year warning parents not to inoculate their children with the polio vaccine returned to WhatsApp screens in the state on Saturday, sending health officials scrambling to contain the message.

“Don’t inoculate children under the age of 5 with the polio vaccine. There is a virus in it. They have arrested the owner of the pharma company manufacturing the vaccine,” the message read in Kannada.

This prompted the state’s Department of Health and Family Welfare to go on the offensive over WhatsApp, issuing statements in English and Kannada, describing the message as false.

“The central and state governments have already instructed many times that the polio vaccine is safe and nobody should spread rumours about it. This type of misconception can cause confusion in the parent’s mind and hinder the implementation of the programme,” the statement read.

Eagle-eyed health officials also noticed that this was the same message which had started to make the rounds in September 2018, following the arrest of the managing director of Ghaziabad-based Biomed Pvt Ltd, for supplying Type 2 of the polio vaccine even after it was discontinued.

“That was last year. No one has been arrested now. This message is a cut-and-paste job from last year,” a senior health official said.

Earlier, false messages alleging tainted tainted vaccines usually appeared at the onset of a scheduled polio drive. “However, this is no drive going on at this time,” the officer said.

The officer speculated that recent reports of a polio outbreak in the Philippines had prompted the re-circulation of the fake message.

(Published 21 September 2019, 19:36 IST)

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