Apparently, there was a new and hitherto untried way of refusing Polio vaccine to the students in some schools in Peshawar.
Dozens of students reportedly were admitted in various hospitals with complaints of headaches, nausea and abdominal pain after they were administered vaccine but all of them were later discharged. Even the doctors who treated the admitted children said some students were admitted but all of them were in stable condition. Most were discharged soon after the first aid.
Later, protesters reportedly stormed inside a hospital in Peshawar’s Masho Khel area on Monday and set it on fire as a reaction to the faulty polio vaccine. Later in the day, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan debunking the reports said the complaints by the students were only psychological.
Capital City Police Officer and Polio Eradication Department’s Kamran Ahmad Afridi both confirmed that there was nothing wrong with the vaccine.
Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication representative said that the school administration where the drops were administered had been against the immunisation of students and implied that they spread panic after they were forced to comply. The schools where this panic triggered were among those who had rejected the polio vaccine drops to its students in the past.
This is a worrying trend. It reflects that the prayer leaders and teachers who have a great influence on the students as well as among the communities still have their doubts about the initiative. Even if they are few in numbers, they need to be reached out with the right message. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is where most of the recent cases were reported from. Frequent movement of people from Afghanistan, the only other country besides Pakistan with active Poliovirus, into the province makes it all the more important for the Polio teams to succeed there. Unless every single child is administered, the danger of the crippling disease shall remain.