There are 36 children in Syria, so far, who the World Health Organization has confirmed have died as a result of receiving tainted measles vaccines under a United Nations-sponsored program.
The tainted vaccine was given specifically to children in the rebel-held north of Syria, but does not appear to have effected children elsewhere.
The U.N. has announced the suspension of the vaccination program after rumors began circulating that the tainted vaccines were a result of deliberate sabotage.
Clinics in the towns of Jirjanaz and Maaret al-Nouman, in the province of Idlib, explained that there was virtually no delay between the administration of the tainted vaccines and the children who received them falling ill.
So far 36 is the death toll, but many other children are sick from the tainted batch, though they are being treated and are in stable condition.
“It’s very bad. The figures of dead we are getting go into the 30s. Children are dying very quickly,” said Daher Zidan, the coordinator of the relief organization and medical charity, Uossm, just over the border in Turkey. “We think it will get worse.”
The Syrian opposition coalition that controls the area of Idlib province said that “the Syrian interim government’s health ministry has instructed a halt to the second round of the measles vaccination campaign, which began Monday …following several fatalities and injuries among children in vaccination centers in the Idlib countryside,” a representative said.
While the exact cause of the deaths from the vaccinations is not known, the U.N. suggests that a tainted batch is the most likely culprit.
“At least five children have died and 50 others are suffering from poisoning or allergic reactions after measles vaccinations in Jirjanaz, in Idlib province,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The charity Save the Children commented that it was “appalled and deeply saddened” by the children’s’ deaths.
“Save the Children is appalled and deeply saddened by the news of the deaths of a number of children and the hhospitalization of many more after receiving vaccinations for measles in northern Syria earlier today.
“The local authorities have launched an investigation. It is clear something has gone badly wrong and Save the Children will help the authorities in any way we can to help find out what has happened.”
(Article by M.A. Hussein)