No illness due to polio drops

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Jan 17:  The Health Department said today that there has been no case of illness from any part of the State due to polio drops.
Health and Medical Education Commissioner/Secretary Dr Mandeep K Bhandari said the reports of illness due to polio drops were only rumours.
He said the Department has fixed target of immunizing all 19.5 lakh children in three days.
“The first day was successful with booth-to-booth coverage of the children and in the next two days it would be house-to-house coverage of the children,” Dr Bhandari said, adding the Department would achieve 100 per cent target during the three days programme.
Meanwhile, panic gripped Kashmir valley after rumors of death of children due to expired Polio vaccines with worried parents rushing their kids to nearby hospitals this afternoon. But           officials quickly dismissed the rumors and termed them baseless.
Lakhs of children were given the polio drops across the Valley today and trouble erupted after rumors emerged in the afternoon from South Kashmir’s Pulwama district that several children have died due to expired vaccinations.
Following the rumors, thousands of worried parents took their kids to hospitals and within hours the major hospitals of city including Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS), Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura and Bemina, GB Panth were flooded with children and their parents. Similar reports were received from other districts of the Valley.
The panic was such that the mothers while holding their kids were seen pleading motorcyclists to take them to hospitals. Due to unprecedented panic, the city roads witnessed traffic jam and there was traffic chaos. The parents were feeding their children with bananas and other fruits. The social networking sites and messaging apps were also abuzz with the rumors with people enquiring from each other the veracity of these rumors.
Given the panic and rumors, the medical officials in all the District Hospitals issued clarifications and made it clear that no child has died in their respective hospitals. The Chief Medical Officers and Block Medical Officers also issued similar clarifications to media.
The Chief Immunization Officer Dr Yanghtan Dolma told Excelsior that there is no question of using expired vaccinations and rejected all the rumors.”We had received the vaccines 10 days ago from Government of India. There were 25 lakh total doses for both Jammu and Kashmir Divisions and last week we distributed them. The expiry date for these vaccines is September 17,” she said.
Dr Dolma said that the miscreants are spreading rumors in an attempt to scuttle the successful pulse polio campaign in Kashmir valley. “These vaccines cannot be fatal. In fact they have no side effects and we also give these vaccines to ill children. This is a malicious propaganda since there has been no polio case in Kashmir from past 20 years. We are getting good response from the people of Valley ever since the vaccination campaign was started,” she added.
A senior official of the Health Department said that the vaccination is 100 percent safe and hinted towards the action against the rumor mongers. Medical Superintendent, GB Panth, which is Valley’s lone paediatric hospital, said the hospital received no case pertaining to polio vaccine and there has been no death.
In the meanwhile, angry crowds resorted to stone-pelting outside SMHS Hospital and Sub-District Hospital Sopore after which police lobbed several teargas shells.
A police official told Excelsior that strict action would be taken against rumor mongers.

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