Director of Public Health Dr S Elango blamed certain political parties for trying to wreak havoc in what essentially is a campaign for children across the country. The baby who died had hydrocephalus or water in the brain. He had been operated upon in a private hospital in Coimbatore and his death was a pure coincidence. Worldwide polio drops cannot and have not affected a single baby, he said.
Elango said the damage caused by such irresponsible media reports would have ripple effects on the health of babies and children in the State. â€œDue to this report, we suspect around 20 lakh children may not get the vaccine and our State that has been polio-free for four years may just see some cases,he said. Angry and upset, the State Health Department is issuing counter statements on several television channels asking parents not to panic over rumours and appealing to them to get their children vaccinated.
Health Secretary V K Subburaj said the department was trying to contain the panic and initiate measures to ensure children were not missed. While the rumours have not affected vaccination in the city where over 4 lakh children were immunised at 1,126 centres the Institute of Child Health, Egmore has been receiving calls asking if the polio drops are safe. â€œWe are trying to scotch these rumours. Pulse polio has been given for 13 years without a single untoward incident, said director Dr Sharada Suresh.
The campaign, launched on Sunday by Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, is expected to benefit over 70 lakh children across the State in two phases December 21 and February 2, 2009. The campaign is covering children under the age of five who will be administered polio drops despite their previous immunisation status. At least 40,339 immunisations booths have been set up across the State at government hospitals, primary health centres, schools, noon meal centres and other locations. Health Minister M R K Pannerselvam said centres were also being put up at bus and railway stations, temples and tourist spots to ensure children of migrant workers were also covered.