LANDI KOTAL: Two minor children died and 11 more fell unconscious because of reaction to vaccines during an immunisation campaign in Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency on Wednesday.

Local sources said that the two minors hailing from Shalobar area were administered vaccines against measles and pneumonia and died moments after the administration of injections.

A simultaneous anti-polio vaccination is also underway in most parts of Bara as part of the national polio vaccination campaign.

The sources said that another 11 children in different localities became unconscious both due to injections against seven different diseases and also after taking polio drops. The affected children were immediately shifted to hospitals in Peshawar.

Local officials said that at least four health workers had been taken into custody soon after the incident, while samples of the different vaccines had also been taken for medical examination.

Reacting to the sudden death of infants during the vaccination campaign in Bara, the Emergency Operations Centre at the Fata Secretariat issued a clarification by insisting that polio vaccine had never caused any death of child as it was one of the safest vaccines throughout the world.

Director Health Service Fata Dr Jawad Habib Khan said that appropriate measures were taken to vaccinate every child in entire Fata in a safe and secure manner. He said that deaths of two minors had been reported from Nogazai and Purdelabad areas of Shalobar in Bara tehsil, insisting that these deaths had not been caused by polio vaccination.

Dr Habib said that the cause of the deaths was under investigation by the agency health management team and added that once the investigation was completed, its findings would be shared with media and all the stakeholders.

Health authorities and political administration in Khyber Agency had only recently made claims about the successes they had jointly achieved against polio as no new case had surfaced since November last year. The death of the two minors in Bara could jeopardise the smooth vaccination campaign in the region which had faced stiff resistance both from militant groups and some refusing families in recent past.

Published in Dawn December 22nd, 2016