Vaccine Workers' Mistakes Kill 15 Kids in South Sudan

Measles campaign didn't follow hygiene protocol
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2017 10:54 AM CDT
Vaccine Workers' Mistakes Kill 15 Kids in South Sudan
In this Tuesday, April 1, 2008 file photo, people line up for a measles vaccination in Lieth, northern el Ghazal province, southern Sudan.   (AP Photo/Medecins Sans Frontieres, Kevin P.Q. Phelan)

Health workers vaccinating children in South Sudan against measles last month used the same syringe for all the children without sterilizing it and did not properly refrigerate the vaccine during storage, leading to the deaths of at least 15 children. Of the 300 or so children vaccinated between May 2-5 in Nacholdokopele village in Eastern Equatoria state, another 32 were sickened with symptoms including fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, but recovered, Reuters reports. "The team that vaccinated the children in this tragic event were neither qualified nor trained for the immunization campaign," the health minister told reporters. Specialists found that the children were afflicted with severe sepsis toxicity as a result of the contaminated vaccine.

Per Sky News, children as young as 12 administered the vaccines, and officials are working to discover who should be held responsible. Per the Independent, the World Health Organization provides some training on administering vaccines to South Sudan's health officials, and UNICEF, the United Nations' children's agency, provides the vaccines to the government. But it was unclear whether UN officials were present for the Nacholdokopele vaccinations, and a joint statement from the two agencies says the people administering the vaccines were not qualified or trained. All the children who died were under the age of 5, the AP reports. (More South Sudan stories.)

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