Cops are now in search of three women who posed as government volunteers who administered expired H1N1 vaccines.
According to news reports, the women apparently claimed to be working for the World Health Organization, and asked to use space at a local health clinic, and charged 100 Rupees for each H1N1 dose, in Mumbai, India.
The incident occurred on Saturday, June 25th, at a clinic in Bhandup called Bhatti Pada. Children were given a nasal vaccine purportedly for H1N1 and charged for each spray.
Barely 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine, some of the kids started bleeding from their nose and had to be rushed to the neighborhood hospital.
“On Saturday afternoon, three women claiming to be associated with a government recognized NGO gave a H1N1 vaccine to my 11-year-old son Yash and nine-year-old daughter Amisha. Half an hour later, Yash started bleeding from his nose and also complained of drowsiness. I was attending to him when suddenly Amisha started vomiting.
I realized something had gone wrong with the vaccine and rushed my children to the civic hospital in Mulund,” said Surendra Gupta father of Amisha and Yash. Once there, Surendra realized there were several others who had been affected by the vaccine. “Every child in my family had been administered the vaccine.”
“The volunteers had showed us a card, which said their organization was registered with World Health Organization and nobody bothered to cross check,” said Rajesh Sharma, father of four affected children, who had to be admitted to the civic hospital after they began complaining of drowsiness and nose bleed.
Eighteen children between 10 months and 15 years of age had to be hospitalized with severe nose bleeding and diarrhea after being administered the swine flu vaccine.
Parents of the victims alerted the police, but by then the trio had fled the scene. Cops have identified and registered a case against Dr. Prabhakar Singh, who had allowed the women to set up their stall in his clinic and have also registered a case against unknown persons.
Clinic owner Dr. Prabhakar Singh defended himself saying, “I am innocent. My only fault was that I was unaware of their fraud and allowed them to use my clinic for the camp.” Dr Singh claimed that since the group had approached him with what seemed to be a genuine social cause, he decided to provide his clinic space during lunch hours. “The women told me that the vaccine has provided by the government. I didn’t cross check. On Saturday at around 2 pm, I left my clinic for lunch after two hours. When I came back I saw a large, angry crowd at my clinic. That’s when I realized what had gone wrong.”
Dr. Pradeep Awate, Assistant Director of Health Services in Maharashtra, alerted people against quacks claiming to administer H1N1 vaccines. “The State is not doing any kind of mass immunization drive against the H1N1. If some one claims that they are from the government, they are quacks,” he said, adding, “A private practitioner can give swine flu vaccine only if the patient is symptomatic and only those vaccines, which are approved by the government.”
Preliminary investigations have revealed that the vaccines were well past their expiration date and samples have been sent for forensic tests.