Four State health workers have been suspended in connection with the administering of Hepatitis B vaccine orally, instead of pulse polio immunisation drops, to 57 children at Khatul village in the Arambagh subdivision of the State’s Hooghly district on Sunday.
The West Bengal Human Rights Commission took suo motu cognisance of the incident on Monday and sought a report from the State government.
Justice (retd) N.C. Seal and S.N. Roy, both members of the Commission, directed the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Hooghly, to file a report within three weeks.
“The children who had to be hospitalised have been discharged and the situation is totally under control,” Manmeet Nanda, the District Magistrate, told The Hindu over the telephone.
B.R. Satpathy, director of State Health Services, said that 57 children were administered Hepatitis B vaccine that is not supposed to be taken orally.
“There is no harmful effect of the vaccine, but giving Hepatitis B vaccine instead of pulse polio immunisation drops is neither acceptable nor desirable,” he said.
Stating that it was a case of clear negligence of duty on the part of the heath workers, he said that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has directed strong action against those responsible for the mix-up.
While 57 children were administered wrong vaccine, another 14 from adjoining areas who were given the right vaccine were also hospitalised by their parents out of panic, Dr. Satpathy said, adding that all the children have been released.
“Though the children have been released from the hospital, we have decided to send medical teams door-to-door for the next two days for the satisfaction of the people,” Mr. Nanda said.
There was a panic in the area when people got to know of the incident. Villagers held up senior district officials, including the Sub Divisional Officer (SDO), Arambagh, who rushed to the spot to pacify them on Sunday.
Over the past two years, no case of polio has been recorded in the country. The last case of polio was recorded in the State’s Howrah district when in, January 2013 a two-and-a-half-year-old girl was found to be infected with wild polio virus.