BANGLADESH - Three babies died within hours after they were vaccinated against measles under Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) at Kalikapur Community Health Clinic of Guabaria union in the district's Hizla upazila early yesterday.
The victims were identified as Toma, daughter of Profulla Dhali; Tisha, daughter of Pancham Kolu; and Pranto, son of Anil Kolu.
Pancham Kolu said health assistant Taslima, who is in charge of the clinic, vaccinated the infants Wednesday afternoon. She pushed the doses from a broken ampoule over the objection of the mothers of the babies, he alleged.
Later at home, the mothers found the babies drowsing. Soon, the ten-month-olds went into convulsion and started vomiting and suffering from diarrhoea.
The mothers rushed the ailing three to Hizla Upazila Health Complex where the infants were given initial treatment. Around 2:30am yesterday, Toma breathed her last.
Pranto and Tisha were referred to Barisal Sher-e-Bangla Medical College and Hospital after their condition deteriorated but both died on the way to the hospital, said their mothers.
Upazila Health Officer Shuvangkar Baroi admitted that the three died after taking EPI vaccines.
EPI vaccines for nine wards of Harinathpur, Memania and Guabaria unions were preserved in an icebox at a transit-point pharmacy of Alamgir Sardar, he said.
On Wednesday morning, nine community health assistants, including Taslima, collected one ampoule each to vaccinate ten babies per ampoule, said Mizanur Rahman, an EPI official of Hizla upazila health complex.
The officer also said they are yet to know how Taslima collected another ampoule after pushing one ampoule to ten babies and what kind of vaccine was pushed to additional three babies.
Taslima was unavailable for comment.
Anil Chandra Dutta, Barisal district civil surgeon, said they have formed a probe committee and visited Kalikapur to collect evidence and record statements of witnesses.
The six-member committee is comprised of Deputy Civil Surgeon ASM Abdus Sattar, local officials of World Health Organisation Arifur Rahman and Mizanur Rahman, District EPI Supervisor Bazlur Rahman, Barisal SBMCH child specialist Mahmud Hasan Khan and Upazila Health Officer Shuvangkar Baroi.
Md Ahsan Habib, upazila nirbahi officer, said that after talking with the victims' families, he asked police and health officials to investigate the incident.
Police lodging three cases of unnatural deaths sent the bodies to Barisal SBMCH morgue for autopsy, said Rafiqul Hossain, officer-in- charge of Hizla Police Station.