Following the controversy over the administration of the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine to tribal girls in Khammam district, the Andhra Pradesh government has decided not to allow further mass vaccination until it receives a go-ahead from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and other competent agencies.
Disclosing this to TheHindu here on Thursday, Anil Puneetha, commissioner, Health and Family Welfare, said that under a feasibility project taken up by the U.S.-based NGO PATH-International, in coordination with the State government, as many as 14,000 girls between 10 and 14 years were given the first of three doses of the vaccine in three blocks of Khammam in July-August last year.
However, 300 of them dropped out “for various reasons” by the time the third dose was administered in January this year.
Mr. Puneetha said the project was launched and completed only after receiving technical clearance from the Drugs Controller-General of India and the ICMR.
“We started the project after following all the norms,” he added. Replying to a question, he said the NGO might have planned to undertake more vaccination in the State.
Mr. Puneetha said the project advisory committee, comprising the deputy director-general of the ICMR, technical experts and senior government officials, met here on April 6 and decided to refer the matter to the ICMR to seek a fresh technical opinion.
The government would think of allowing the administration of the HPV vaccine in future only when a fresh clearance was given by the Centre, he added.
Mr. Puneetha pointed out that the vaccine was available in the market and it was for the Centre to take a call on it.
Denying the reported deaths of tribal girls due to the vaccine, he said the government had already clarified the matter. “We have received reports from the district, that they [the deaths] are not linked to the vaccine,” Mr. Puneetha said.