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November 19, 2019

WHO, Unicef and Pakistani experts declare new typhoid vaccine ‘very safe’


November 19, 2019

As a mass vaccination drive against extensively drug-resistant (XDR) typhoid started in Karachi and other parts of Sindh on Monday, the World Health Organisation (WHO), Unicef and Pakistani child specialists and doctors said the newly-introduced vaccine was fully safe and would prevent children from nine months to 15 years of age from typhoid, which has emerged as major health issue in the province.

“TCV [Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine) is very safe vaccine and no serious adverse events were observed after its administration. This vaccine is pre-qualified by the World Health Organisation, which means that its production is rigorously monitored by WHO. TCV is recommended for use by WHO because it’s safe and effective in granting the protection [against XDR typhoid],” said Dr Palitha Gunarathna Mahipala, WHO representative in Pakistan, in a message to The News on Monday.

Dr Mahipala said: “Moreover, TCV was used in different countries in the world, including Pakistan, and proved its safety.”

Unicef officials as well as other international donor agencies also urged the parents to get their children vaccinated against typhoid through the vaccine, saying this would provide protection to their children against the disease for many years.

At the same time, Pakistani health officials and renowned paediatricians urged the parents in Karachi and the rest of Sindh to grab the opportunity and get their children vaccinated against typhoid, saying the vaccine was being imported with millions of dollars but it was being administered to children free of charge by the authorities.

“Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine is an absolutely safe vaccine which was earlier injected to hundreds of thousands of children in Hyderabad and later in Lyari by the Aga Khan University experts, and not a single child faced any adverse reaction. Instead of listening to rumours, parents should get their children vaccinated against the lethal waterborne disease,” said Prof Dr Jamal Raza, director of the National Institute of Child Health (NICH), while talking to The News.

Pakistan is the first country that has planned to vaccinate over 10.1 million children in Sindh, including 5.2 million children in 192 union councils of Karachi. The decision came after over 13,700 cases of XDR typhoid were reported in Karachi and Hyderabad, compelling the health authorities in Pakistan to plan a massive vaccination campaign in the province to contain the spread of the deadly, drug-resistant typhoid.

Health officials said around 10.1 million children from nine months to 15 years to be vaccinated in 462 union councils across Sindh. Out of these, 5.2 million children would be vaccinated in 192 UCs of Karachi, adding that a total of 930 fixed site teams, 6,992 outreach site teams and 15,000 social mobilisers are taking part in this campaign in the province.

Prof Jamal Raza maintained that no child had an adverse reaction due to the TCV vaccine, saying it was normal for children to get scared watching their peers receiving injections.

“Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine is a safe and tested vaccine. Children don’t faint because of vaccination. All children who were given the TCV are stable,” he assured parents and said media should encourage all parents to vaccinate their children.

Prof Khalid Shafi, vice president of the Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA) and an eminent pediatrician, also urged the parents not to pay attention to the rumours and get their children vaccinated when teams came to their homes or schools for vaccination, saying this vaccine had already been used in other parts of the province, including Hyderabad and Lyari, where hundreds of thousands of children were protected against typhoid through this vaccine.

“On Friday, when this vaccination campaign was launched in Sindh, my daughter was the first child, who got the TCV shot in her arm and some other children, who were sons and daughters of other health officials were also vaccinated. This was just to show to the parents that this vaccinate is extremely safe and effective.”

Earlier on Monday, about a dozen children had reportedly fainted in a private school after receiving TCV vaccination shots, who were taken to a nearby private health facility and were sent home after given first aid. However, panic gripped parents in the country after this minor incident was highlighted by a section of the electronic and print media as a major health fiasco.

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