On December 20, 2012, a vaccination tragedy hit the small village of Gouro, located in northern Chad, Africa. According to the newspaper La Voix, out of five hundred children who received the new meningitis vaccine MenAfriVac, at least 40 of them between the ages of 7 and 18 have become paralyzed. Those children also suffered hallucinations and convulsions.
Since this report, the true extent of this tragedy is coming to light, as parents of these vaccinated children have reported yet more injuries. The authorities in the area are shaken, as citizens set fire to a sanitary administration vehicle in a demonstration of their frustration and anger at the government’s negligence.
“We wish that our children would get their health back,” shared the parent of a sick child.
THE MENAFRIVAC VACCINE
MenAfriVac is a new vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India Limited. According to The Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP), it is the first vaccine to gain approval to travel outside the cold chain, meaning that the vaccine can be transported without refrigeration or ice packs for up to four days:
“The meningitis A vaccine known as MenAfriVac®, created to meet the needs of Africa’s meningitis belt, can now be kept in a controlled temperature chain (CTC) at temperatures of up to 40°C for up to four days, a decision that could help increase campaign efficiency and coverage and save funds normally spent maintaining the challenging cold chain during the “last mile” of vaccine delivery.”
The data on the MenAfriVac vaccine is further backed by the World Health Organization’s website and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website.
So, why does this information differ vastly from the information given on the manufacturer’s website? Serum Institute of India Ltd. stated under the section marked STORAGE:
“MenAfriVac should be stored and transported between 2-8ºC. Protect from light. The diluent should be stored at 25°C. It is recommended to protect the reconstituted vaccine from direct sunlight. Do not exceed the expiry date stated on the external packaging.”
THE STORY FROM INSIDE AFRICA
Mr. M., the cousin of two of the vaccine-injured children, who currently remain critically ill and hospitalized, explained that many of the children reacted within 24 hours of receiving the vaccine. He said that at first the children vomited and complained of headaches, before falling to the floor with uncontrollable convulsions while bent over with saliva coming from their mouths.
He shared that on December 26, 2012, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Social Security visited Gouro, bringing with them two Members of Parliament. He said that after some discussion, they decided to evacuate approximately 50 paralyzed children to a hospital over three hundred miles away in N’Djamena, the capital city of Chad.
He added that the government responded to the tragedy by paying the parents money in a desperate bid to silence them, further stating that many of the parents are traumatized and confused.
As reported in La Voix, according to a member of the medical staff, as well as a comment from Dr. Daugla Oumagoum Moto, the director of the Center of International Health Support (CSSI), the reactions that these children have suffered are not typical of this type of vaccine against meningitis, which they say are normally fever, vomiting, and headaches, not the adverse reactions experienced by the hospitalized children.
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