Fifteen Children in South Sudan Die During Vaccine Campaign

The Associated Press is reporting that 15 children have died as a result of a vaccination campaign in South Sudan. According to the report:

“Fifteen young children have died in a botched measles vaccination campaign that saw people as young as 12 years old administering the vaccines, South Sudan’s government announced Friday.

The United Nations said the children died of “severe sepsis/toxicity” from the contaminated vaccine, and the health ministry blamed the deaths on human error. One syringe was used for all the children during the four-day campaign, and the vaccine was stored without refrigeration the entire time.”

So let’s reemphasize the meaningful facts before the anti-vaccine liars get a hold of these news and start to use them to attack the vaccination campaigns here in the United States.

First, South Sudan has been embroiled in a civil war for quite a while now. They used to be part of Sudan, but broke off and became independent in 2011. The continuing state of war, along with periodic famines, have presented quite a challenge to deliver food, medicine, clean water, and other supplies. To top it off, measles has been on the increase, further putting a burden on the lives of the people there. (And, by extension, the lives of Sudanese refugees the world over as refugees go back to see family and take measles back to their host countries.)

Second, 12 year-old children should not be administering vaccines. Yes, there is a shortage of trained professionals to administer vaccines because of the situation on the ground. But it goes without saying that this was a huge mistake. There are many things that can go wrong — and apparently did — during the administration of a vaccine, and I’m sure 12 year-old children are not trained to handle it.

Third, even with the preservative thimerosal in it (which the MMR vaccine does not have, as it is a live-virus vaccine), vaccines can still become contaminated over the course of several days being open and not in proper storage conditions. Furthermore, needles can collect pathogens from all over the place, including people. They probably passed on those pathogens from person to person, causing all of this.

“The civil war has killed tens of thousands and sent more than 1.8 million people fleeing the country, creating the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.

In 2016, South Sudan had at least 2,294 measles cases and 28 people died, according to U.N. data. So far this year, at least one person has died and 665 people have been infected.”

So, when the anti-vaccine jerks tell you that it was the vaccine that killed these children, make sure to fire back with facts.

6 thoughts on “Fifteen Children in South Sudan Die During Vaccine Campaign

  1. I’d bet more on the antivax crew screaming and hollering that the children there need clean food and water more than vaccines. I wonder if any well-known antivaxer has ever given even a dollar to charities that work in that part of the world, credible and well-established charities.

    • Or even better, volunteer to help out.
      Of course, that would require some element of bravery, as there is still a bit of fighting going on.

  2. I disagree about 12 year old teens administering vaccines, as I’ve known quite a few teens that age who are very responsible. That’s especially true in developing nations, where responsibility is thrust on teens that age out of necessities of survival.
    But, proper, stringent training should have been given and supervision conducted for an extended period before permitting a layperson administer any injections to the populace under lesser controls.

    Errors noticed: Lack of controlled conditions at all, in administration of the vaccine, storage of the vaccine and the use of a single syringe. An obvious lack of training to any kind of acceptable standard in aseptic techniques, use of hypodermic syringes, likely lacking in proper injection techniques and locations and likely, even injection site location wasn’t appropriately trained.

    I’ve operated in such austere environments. Careful training can avoid the overwhelming majority of the issues apparently present in this debacle. To hazard a guess, insufficient support was made available, ranging from hypodermic syringe supplies, alcohol preps were likely absent and damning, no refrigeration was made available for the vaccine.
    This was a classic case of, if one cannot do the job correctly, one should not even bother with the attempt, as the cure was worse than the disease.

    • Yeah, but it’s not like they didn’t have the resources to get adults trained and involved. The vaccine aid came with a ton of cash, compared to what the average Sudanese would otherwise be paid. It seems to me that corruption led to cutting corners and to dead children.

Comments are closed.