A Covid-19 vaccination camp in Madhya Pradesh's Sagar made headlines on July 27 after 39 students were administered vaccines with the same syringe. While the person who administered the vaccine faces an FIR and the district immunisation officer has been suspended, the authorities are yet to get to the bottom of the incident.
The Madhya Pradesh health department engaged nursing students enrolled in private colleges and government nursing colleges to vaccinate school children at the Jain Public Higher Secondary School in Sagar. Jitendra Ahirwar, a third-year student at SVN University was assigned the task of administering vaccines. But the camp quickly became the epicentre of controversy after a parent of one of the students noticed that he did not change the syringe while vaccinating his child.
Dinesh Namdev told BOOM, "When I enquired, the vaccinator said that the HOD had given only one syringe to vaccinate every student."
This left the parents agitated, as using the same syringe poses a serious threat to the health of children. "Who will be held responsible if anything happens to our children?" Namdev asked.
What the nursing student said
Ahirwar confessed to vaccinating multiple students with the same syringe, but said, "It is not my fault."
In a video recorded by the parents of the students, Ahirwar can be saying that the "head of department" sent only one syringe and he was only following instructions. When asked if he didn't know one syringe cannot be used on multiple people, he said, "I asked them should I use one syringe? He said yes."
Jitendra Raj, a data entry operator of the health department, who was present at the vaccination camp lodged a complaint with the police. An FIR was filed against Ahirwar booking him Section 336 (Act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code.
Who is to blame?
Sagar's chief medical and health officer DK Goswami told BOOM that the matter was under investigation. However, he said, "Vaccine officer's negligence has been found so far, which is why he has been suspended."
Raj told BOOM that only two injections were found in the room where Ahirwar was vaccinating students. "I don't know how many injections he received from the department, but he brought only two," he said. But he was not able to say how many syringes were provided to Ahirwar.
SR Roshan, the district immunisation officer said that he failed to inspect the vaccination centre before inoculation started, but claimed, "Vaccine vials and AD syringes were provided to Jitendra in equal numbers by the health department." Roshan said that Jitendra forgot the AD syringes in the vehicle that picked him up. "Jitendra picked up two Dispovan syringes from the van that were kept for other medical purposes," he said.
Roshan questioned Ahirwar's actions and wondered by he didn't inform the school authorities if there was a lack of enough syringes.
Vishwas Sarang, the minister of medical education of Madhya Pradesh called it a "serious lapse" and said, "The health department will closely monitor all students."
After the incident blood samples of 39 students were tested for CBC and Hepatitis B, and none of them showed any signs of infectious diseases.
Amulya Nidhi a health activist and founder of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), a network of civil society organisations and movements fighting for health rights, said, "The COVID-19 vaccination protocol mandates that only one syringe be used per vaccination. Probably due to a lack of injections or a lack of training, the nursing student inoculated everyone with the same injection."
He said that suspending the district immunisation officer was not enough and would not solve the problem. "The government should take action against everyone involved in this incident," he said.
Past cases of medical negligence
A homoeopathy doctor was arrested in January earlier this year from Madhya Pradesh's Khandwa district for administering an allopathy injection to a 45-year-old diabetes patient, resulting in his death. The clinic has now been sealed. The incident took place in October 2021. Vivek Singh, Khandwa's superintendent of police, said that the investigation was done after the victim's family complained against the doctor. He said, "Upon investigation, it was discovered that Deepak Artani died of an infection after a wrong injection led to the spread of infection. Also, the police raided the clinic and found evidence of Viswakarma's malpractice."
This isn't the only case of negligence. Priyanka Viswakarma, a 29-year-old woman died in July after consuming medicine given by a local clinic run in Madhya Pradesh's Seoni district. Akhilesh Viswakarma, Priyanka's brother, said that his sister visited the doctor for knee pain. The medicines made her ill. The family member took her to a hospital where she was declared dead.
According to Bhopal-based activist Ajay Dubey, the government has failed to create accountability leading to recurring incidents that cost lives. "The right to health is a fundamental right guaranteed to every Indian citizen by Article 21 of the Constitution. Anyone who is negligent with people's health should be punished," he said.
Do you always want to share the authentic news with your friends?