"The condition of my six-month-old son deteriorated after"
A Pakistani father has claimed that the polio vaccine caused the death of his son. The incident happened in Peshawar.
The deceased child’s father, Muhammad Umar held a press conference in Bara Press Club in Peshawar and stated:
“The doctors of Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) Peshawar said that my child was weak due to premature birth.
“They said that there was no need to administer polio vaccination until he gets normal.
“However, he was forcefully administered polio drops when I was not home by the local polio supervisor and a doctor of Dogra Hospital Bara.
“The condition of my six-month-old son deteriorated after that, I took him to hospital where he did not survive.”
Despite the allegations, Muhammad Umar insisted that he is not against the polio vaccine. He said:
“I have served in the polio vaccination team myself, however, the issue of my child was different.
“The vaccination officials had no right to forcibly administer polio vaccine to my child when doctors had advised against it.”
Muhammad demanded that the Pakistani Government take action against the vaccination officials whose irresponsible behaviour caused his child’s death.
He said such irresponsible acts of the officials were damaging for the polio vaccination efforts in the area.
Instances such as these are not uncommon in Pakistan.
In fact, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world which have not fully eradicated polio.
As parents to this day refuse to cooperate with polio vaccination teams, the Pakistan Government has been fighting an uphill battle in regards to the polio vaccine for years now.
As despite scientific proof of its necessity rural communities of Pakistan refuse to allow their children to be administered the vaccine.
The uninformed local media, illiteracy rates and conspiracy theorists have a big role to play in the phenomena.
In June 2019, 25,000 children were brought into hospitals all over the Balochistan after a local media channel’s unsubstantiated claims on the vaccine.
Mass panic had spread following rumours on local news channels that children had fallen ill after receiving polio drops.
A health clinic in a Peshawar suburb was torched in the ensuing riots.
Two policemen accompanying polio teams as well as a female polio worker were shot dead.
As the rumours spread, newspapers reported that refusal rates for the polio vaccine soared to 85% in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Eventually, Pakistan’s government was forced to halt the vaccine campaign nationwide.
The panic has now ended, however, the incident in 2019, has caused lasting scars on Pakistan’s psyche in regards to the polio vaccine.