Three toddlers in India died soon after allegedly receiving the measles-rubella (MR) shot during a vaccination drive. Preliminary investigation revealed negligence on the part of a health worker caused the tragedy.

The victims have been identified as 13-month-old Pavitra Hulagur, 14-month-old Umesh Kuragundi and 16-month-old Chetan Pujari, the Hindustan Times reported. The three children lived in the southern state of Karnataka, a local health official said Sunday. 

According to health department officials, at least 17 children were given the vaccine at the Anganwadi school in Salahalli village of Ramdurg taluk by the local primary health center on Jan. 12. Among them, four toddlers fell sick within one-and-a-half hours, and began vomiting and suffering from diarrhea.

While two died at the Belagavi institute of Medical Sciences, one succumbed to the infection in the Ramdurg taluk hospital. The fourth child, who was later admitted to a hospital, was reportedly recovering. Officials said the infection could have spread from non-sterilised syringes, The Hindu reported. 

“On the face of it, it seems that the concerned staff did not take aseptic measures while vaccinating, which led to the infection,” Ishwar Gadad, district immunization officer, was quoted as saying by The Hindu. “We have taken the necessary disciplinary action against the concerned staff member. An inquiry has been ordered."

The other children who received the vaccine are said to be in good health. The negligence of the health worker led to the deaths of the three children, district authorities said, according to Daiji World reported, citing IANS.

“This is the first time in five years that we have had such adverse reactions to the vaccination process,” S.V. Muniyal, District Health and Family Welfare Officer, said. “We have sent a sample of the vaccine to the central vaccine unit in Kasauli, from where they were received. Urine and stool samples and viscera samples of the victims have been sent for forensic testing."

Two doses of MR vaccine are given to the children at the age of 9-12 months and 16 to 24 months respectively. The health department has stopped giving MR vaccines after the incident.

“We are awaiting the post-mortem (autopsy) report. Things will be clear after that,” Karnataka’s minister for higher education Dr C.N. Ashwath Narayan reportedly said earlier on Sunday.

hospital-1802680_1920 Representation. Hospital beds. Photo: Pixabay