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Vaccinated teenagers rushed to hospital

By Sopo Datishvili
Friday, October 24
Twelve teenagers were taken to hospital just a few hours after they were vaccinated against measles and rubella on October 21.

The teenagers, feeling faint and with powerful headaches, were taken from their schools to the Resuscitation Department of First Clinical Hospital. As a result of this the greater number of parents refused to vaccinate their children. “I was going to vaccinate my child, but when I saw on TV about the kids who ended up in hospital I changed my mind”, said Eka Abdushelishvili, a parent.

A spokesperson of the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs, Tamar Manjavidze, has told The Messenger that immunization is continuing and the number of people vaccinated has reached 209,000. “Any kind of vaccination is followed by a physiological reaction. Every mother knows that during the ten days afterwards the child might have a temperature. Every year about 35,000 people are vaccinated in Georgia and 5 – 15% of them have related symptoms. Now, as the number of vaccinated people has increased, the number of those who have had a reaction to the vaccine has risen proportionally,” she added. According to Manjavidze, ten people who received the vaccine are currently in hospital although their condition is now much better.

The vaccine used in Georgia is imported from India. As explained at the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs, it has an international quality certificate accepted by the World Health Organization. The spokesperson of the Ministry also explained that the vaccine was brought into Georgia without going through the complicated procedures of the Medicine Agency, but this isn’t against law because the vaccines are only to be used in a short-term campaign. The Chair of the Medicine Agency, Ketevan Nikolaishvili, says the decision to import the vaccine was made by a Government commission which only involves itself in such affairs when there is a force majeur situation in the country. In all other instances the Agency should be involved.

The process of immunization started on October 20 and was planned to last until November 2. During this period the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs aimed to vaccinate around 1.1 million people aged between 6 and 27. People in this age group had gaps in their compulsory vaccination programmes as few years ago when the country had difficulty importing the vaccine.

A strong threat of measles and rubella is expected in 2009-2010, and taking into consideration Georgia’s previous experience in such times of general threat (in 2004- 2005, the country experienced its largest outbreak of measles and rubella, seeing 8,391 measles and 5,151 rubella cases between people aged 0 to 69), the Government decided to hold an immunization campaign with the help of WHO, UNICEF and the Rostropovich–Vishnevskaya Foundation. The vaccination centres are equipped by UNICEF, which also assisted in importing the vaccine and arranged special seminars for journalists to raise public awareness of the need for immunization.

The vaccination process is continuing but society seems to be more cautious about it than formerly.