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How a cleaner injected children with killer measles vaccine

The two children who died in Kerio Valley in Elgeyo-Marakwet on Monday after a measles vaccine, were injected by a cleaner, the government said on Wednesday.

Director of Medical Services Nicholas Muraguri said the cleaner has worked at the Kapetwa Health Centre for more than eight years, and “it seems he has treated patients before”.

Dr Muraguri said: “We understand he was employed by the local community and we are investigating who authorised him to administer the vaccine. The man has been arrested.”

In addition, Dr Muraguri said the vaccines were stored in a domestic fridge, which was also used to keep laboratory reagents.

“Other than the domestic fridge not providing the correct temperatures, there is a possibility that the cleaner used the wrong chemical to mix the vaccine, which comes in powder form,” he said.

REVERSE REACTIONS

Dr Muraguri also said the health centre did not have emergency care drugs that would have been administered to the children to reverse the reactions if a qualified health worker had attended to them.

A Health ministry statement on Wednesday said preliminary findings showed that it was unlikely the quality of vaccine was questionable as it was the same batch used countrywide.

It, however, said all vaccines at Kapetwa Health Centre had been withdrawn for investigations.

But angry villagers, who said they had known the health worker who administered the jab for years, suspect the problem might have been with the vaccine.

On Wednesday, government pathologists were sent to Kerio Valley to investigate the mysterious deaths as the grieving parents demanded answers.

The team from the Pharmacy and Poisons Board arrived at the county’s Iten headquarters at noon and immediately proceeded to Kerio Valley, where they found villagers vowing never to vaccinate their children again.

VACCINATION CALLED OFF

The vaccination has subsequently been called off.

Mrs Daisy Kemboi, the mother of one of the dead babies, emotionally recounted their loss.

“I woke up on Tuesday morning, washed her, fed and dressed her to take her for vaccination. Within five minutes of receiving the jab, my child became very ill,” she said.

Her co-wife, Mrs Tecla Cheboi, said: “From today, we will never take our children for vaccination.”

Chief James Sirmo Chesibar said police had a difficult time controlling angry villagers who thronged health facilities after news of the deaths spread.

Seven other children, who were admitted to St Benedictine Sisters Chesongoch Health Centre on Tuesday, were yesterday discharged.

Meanwhile, police have arrested the health worker who administered the jabs to save him from villagers baying for his blood.