Measles Vaccine Kills 15 Syrian Children, Rebel Attack Possible Cause

| by Kathryn Schroeder

A measles vaccine is believed to have been tampered with, causing the deaths of 15 children in Syria.

Dr. Abdulla Ajaj helped administer the vaccine and he said all the children exhibited the same “severe allergic shock” in varying degrees, reports The Daily Mail.

“There was shouting and screaming, it was hard for the parents. You get your child vaccinated and then you find your child dying, it's very hard,” Ajaj said.

The situation was made worse because there were not enough respirators in the clinic to help the children.

Video footage of the terrible event was uploaded to Social Media wherein a medic was shown examining a young girl who was squirming.

Another child appeared lifeless as CPR was given. The child’s mouth was opened to reveal a blue-tinged tongue.

Newsweek reports that the children, all aged between six and 18-months-old, were given anesthetic atracurium, a muscle relaxant used in surgery, instead of the measles vaccine.

The packaging for the drug and vaccine are similar, said a report by Syria’s opposition, the National Coalition.

It is also suspected that rebels fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad are to blame.

The vaccines were left unattended in a storage facility in Jarjanaz.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nation’s Children’s Fun (UNICEF) have not confirmed reports of a drug mix-up or a deliberate sabotage.

“WHO have sent an investigation team to the area and they will be coming back, we hope very very fast, on some answers on how exactly this terrible incident occurred,” Simon Ingram, regional chief of communication for UNICEF in the Middle East and North Africa said.

The vaccination program was taking place in the two northern Syrian provinces of Idlib and Deir Ezzour.  It has been suspended as a precautionary measure.

“[Suspending the vaccination program] is obviously a sensible precaution at this particular time, but we hope that it won’t last long because it’s important that this program to protect children against a dangerous and sometimes lethal disease is allowed to continue,” said Ingram. “We don’t want anything to prevent children from getting the protection they need.”

The vaccine claimed the lives of 15 children.  That number may be as high as 50 based on an internal email sent from Physicians for Human Rights, a New York-based group that works in rebel-occupied areas of northwest Syria.

Samples of the vaccine have been sent to Turkey for analysis.

Photo Source: The Daily Mail/AP