(NaturalNews) Panic over the potential side-effects caused by the polio vaccine continue to mount in various parts of the world, with the latest drama unfolding in India, after authorities arrested an 18-year-old man accused of spreading false rumors regarding the polio vaccine.
Parvez Ahmad Sheikh, a student from Pampore, allegedly wrote on Facebook that the administration of a polio vaccine caused the death of a child, sparking chaos among frightened parents, reports the Times of India.
Indian officials say the claim is baseless and urged people to ignore it. “These are just rumours. I request people to have faith in this 20-year-old vaccination programme,” said Yangthan Dolma, the state’s immunization officer.
The student’s claims, which officials say were made up “for fun,” spurred a swarm of worried parents to rush their vaccinated children to the nearest hospital. Doctors and other medical workers were reportedly beaten by the mob, which also destroyed furniture and attacked security guards, reports Xinhua, China’s official press agency.
It’s quite curious how one Facebook post by an irrelevant teenager caused such a ruckus. Clearly, past events, such as vaccine-related injuries, have shaped the country’s views about immunizations. Despite India’s massive push to eliminate polio, it’s experiencing a sharp increase in a deadly polio-mimicking disease.
Polio vaccine may be contributing to rise in cases of non-polio related paralysis
India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare reported that it had detected about 18,000 cases of Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) last year, all of which tested negative for the polio virus, reports The Vaccine Reaction. An estimated 50,000 cases of AFP are now being diagnosed annually in India – leading some to point the finger at India’s two-decade long vaccine program.
“Clinically indistinguishable from polio paralysis but twice as deadly, the incidence of NPAFP [non-polio Acute Flaccid Paralysis] was directly proportional to doses of oral polio received,” doctors wrote in a 2012 report published in a medical ethics journal.
“Two pediatricians in India compiled data from the polio surveillance program and discovered a link between the increase in OPV use among children during stepped-up polio eradication campaigns and the increasing cases of NPAFP among children.”
The number of cases of NPAFP has risen from 12,000 in 2004, to over 53,500 in 2012, impacting 12 in 100,000 children – a phenomenon that’s likely contributing to people’s growing criticism of the polio vaccine, which may explain parent’s chaotic reaction to the Facebook post.
Bishops in Kenya call for boycott of polio vaccine
The disorder in India is not the first caused by the polio vaccine in recent times. Last summer, bishops from Kenya’s Roman Catholic Church called for a boycott of a mass polio vaccination program, voicing concerns about the drug’s safety.
The vaccine manufacturer refused to provide information about its safety, said the bishops, adding that the government had also dismissed requests for testing.
“We are not fighting anybody, but we are saying let us determine our destiny,” said Cardinal John Njue, bishop of Nairobi. “The moment things (vaccines) are formulated from outside and there are problems, it is our people who suffer. That’s why we are voicing this issue.”
The concern was fueled in part by “an alleged government sterilization campaign last year,” after tests reportedly discovered a miscarriage-causing antigen hidden in an anti-tetanus vaccine, Life Site News reported.
Kenya’s Ministry of Health criticized the bishops, accusing them of “mobilizing the public” against vaccines.
“We are not in conflict with the Ministry of Health, but we have an apostolic and moral duty to ensure Kenyans are getting safe vaccines,” said Bishop Philip Anyolo at a Nairobi news conference.