- Nursing student hospitalised after taking the vaccine
By Nirmala Kannangara – Photos by Lalith Perera
A first year nursing student at the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital was hospitalised, after suffering adverse side effects caused by the influenza A/H1N1 vaccine, Batticaloa Hospital sources said.
She was first rushed to the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital, where she was treated at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for five days, and was later transferred to the Neurology Unit at the National Hospital Colombo.
“Immediately after receiving the injection, she showed symptoms of epilepsy. Her condition got worse little by little. She was at the Colombo Hospital for nine days but the doctors failed to diagnose her illness, though they suspected meningitis,” hospital sources told The Sunday Leader.
Director, Batticaloa Teaching Hospital, Dr. K. Muruganandan however said that the nursing student was never transferred to Colombo, and had been discharged after administering the proper treatment. “It is not a serious illness,” Dr. Muruganandan said.
What’s more, 90% of the Chilaw General Hospital staff who got vaccinated with the Influenza A/ H1N1 vial also suffered minor side effects The Sunday Leader learns. “All of them complained of a giddy feeling and nausea, but after the medication they were sent home,” reliable sources said.
Medical Superintendent, Chilaw Hospital, Dr. Dinusha Jayasinghe however said that three staff members had fallen sick after receiving the injection. She denied that the vaccination was responsible, adding that these illnesses were due to some other ailments.
The Health Ministry has so far received around 200,000 units of Influenza A/ H1N1 vaccine as a grant from the World Health Organisation (WHO), sources from the Ministry said.
Worryingly, the Health Ministry sources claimed that the WHO was supplying Sri Lanka with drugs that were still in the experimental stage.
“This particular PANVAX H1N1 Vaccine by CSL Biotherapies is still used in experiments. Our Health Ministry is ready to accept any medicine given free of charge. It is the sole responsibility of the Drug Quality Control Unit of the Health Ministry to check quality, efficacy and the expiry date before introducing it to the hospitals,” he added.
In mid December, large stocks of Influenza A/ H1N1 vials (which expire on January 17 ) were dispatched to all government hospitals and Medical Officer of Health (MOH) offices, after the Health Ministry withdrew a large stock of A/ H1N1 injections which expired on December 31.
“What was the reason for the Health Ministry to send injections to the hospitals a few days before they expire? If the Health Ministry was so concerned, they would have sent the medicine well before it expired,” Ministry sources claimed.
Meanwhile President, All Ceylon Government Medical Officers Association (ACGMOA), Dr. Gishantha Dassanayake accused the Health Ministry of not releasing the injections to hospitals, as they were waiting for an epidemic situation.
“Almost 26 have died up to now due to swine flu. These deaths could have been prevented, had the Health Ministry released these vials to the hospital well in advance as they were brought to the country in July last year. This shows the inefficiency of the Health Ministry officials. Once this stock expires what plans have they got to control the disease?” queried Dr. Dassanayake.
All attempts to contact Secretary Health Ministry Dr. Ravindra Ruberu and Director General Health Services Dr. Ajith Mendis for a comment failed.