Rajapaksa halts vaccination drive after girl’s death (Lead)

March 20th, 2009 - 6:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, March 20 (IANS) President Mahinda Rajapaksa Friday halted a vaccination campaign against rubella in Sri Lanka after a 12-year-old girl died and 26 others were hospitalised after being vaccinated.
The president ordered a complete halt on further vaccinations and directed Health Minister Nimal Sripala de Silva to present a report, an official statement said.

According to doctors, rubella is a viral infection that primarily affects the skin and lymph nodes.

At least 27 students fell sick after health authorities conducted a routine rubella vaccination programme at St. Thomas Girls’ College in the southern district of Matara Thursday.

M.D. Wanninayakka, media secretary for the health ministry, identified the dead girl as Pashala Hansala.

“Such an incident has never happened before in Sri Lanka. We have immediately dispatched a special team of doctors from epidemiology unit to carry out a full probe,” Wanninayakka told IANS.

The government said that President Rajapaksa was shocked and had directed his secretary to pay Rs.500,000 as compensation for the parents of the dead girl.

Indrani Subasinghe, divisional medical officer of Matara, reportedly said that she had made arrangements to immunise about 300 school girls.

“One of the students, who fell seriously ill, had told authorities that she was allergic to milk. However, she had been vaccinated as rubella vaccine is not a dairy product. Such mishaps seldom occur during immunisation campaigns,” Subasinghe was quoted as saying by the Colombo-based Daily Mirror newspaper.

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