2 Infants Die & 28 Injured After Measles Vaccines in Kenya
By TLB Staff Writer: Christina England
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all African children should be vaccinated with the single measles vaccination at the age of nine months. This is due to the rising number of measles cases that are being reported and the recommendations set by the Global Advisory Group of the Expanded Program of Immunization in 1980. (See The optimal age of measles immunization in low-income countries: a secondary analysis of the assumptions underlying the current policy.)
However, should children this young be vaccinated for measles, when elsewhere in the world the measles vaccine is not offered to children under the age of one year?
WHO Guidelines in Direct Conflict with the CDC
In 2002, a WHO bulletin stated:
“As measles vaccine coverage increases, it becomes more important to identify risk factors for measles and target supplementary immunization strategies at high-risk groups. It is also important to provide high-quality immunization services. Vaccine effectiveness is expected to be at least 85% when measles vaccine is administered at 9 months of age, but cold chain and other program failures have reduced effectiveness in rural and urban areas in developing countries.”
As a result of the above recommendations, the Kenyan Ministry of Health today continues to vaccinate children from the age of nine months for measles.
However, the information supplied by the WHO in 2002 appears to be in direct conflict with the information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a paper titled Measles Prevention: Recommendations of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (ACIP), written in 1989.
In 1989, the CDC stated that:
“A single dose of live measles vaccine had been recommended since measles vaccine was first licensed. In 1963, the recommended age for vaccination was 9 months, but in 1965 it was changed to 12 months, and in 1976 it was changed to 15 months because of evidence demonstrating greater efficacy when children were vaccinated at these ages. Persons vaccinated before the first birthday needed to be re-vaccinated.”
The CDC made it abundantly clear that children below the age of twelve months needed to be revaccinated because the measles vaccine was less effective in younger children. Their findings were further reiterated in a study carried out by researchers in Dehli in 2011.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, only one in five children vaccinated against measles at the age of nine months is protected against the disease. Dr Sunil Gomber, professor of paediatrics at University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS) and the principal investigator of the study reported that they discovered that:
“…only 21.4 per cent of the children had seroprotection for measles (presence of antibodies against the viral infection). Four out of 5 children who were immunized as per the schedule in Delhi were still susceptible to measles.”
The study, originally highlighted in the Indian Express and archived in the Journalism of Courage Archives concluded that:
“Obviously this (protection level) is unexpectedly low. The phenomenon deserves urgent investigation to determine if this finding is confirmable in further studies, first in Delhi and then in other regions.”
Sadly, despite the fact that this study raised questions on the timing of the initial measles vaccine being given at nine months and the fact that the vaccine is known to cause life-threatening adverse reactions, including convulsions, encephalitis and sub-acute schlerosing pan-encephalitis (SSPE), the WHO continues to recommend the vaccination for children aged nine months of age in Kenya. (See Clinical Guidelines for Diagnosis and Treatment of Common Conditions in Kenya.)
Have the WHO’s Actions Caused the Death of Two Infants?
At the beginning of September 2015, a website titled AllAfrica reported that two children had died and ten others had suffered severe adverse reactions after receiving the measles vaccine in Marakwet, Kenya. As a result, all further vaccination with the measles vaccine ceased and samples of the vaccine were sent to the government chemist for testing.
Early reports indicated that the deaths were caused by inexperienced staff administering the vaccine and MP Bowen Kangogo stated:
“We saw children who got paralyzed in Busia county after vaccination, now we are witnessing deaths in Elgeyo Marakwet. We don’t want further casualties in other areas.
This is more than enough evidence that county governments are not up to the task in handling the health function, which must be reverted back to the national government.”
Sadly, these are not the only casualties being reported as All Africa later added that at least 18 children were paralyzed following vaccination in Akichelesit dispensary, Teso, in July.
Catholic Church Demands Answers
Obviously concerned that the vaccine may have been responsible for the death and injury of at least 30 children, the Catholic Church has requested a public announcement of the post-mortem results. Bishop Cornelus Korir of the Catholic diocese of Eldoret told reporters:
“The church has more often than not raised concerns over vaccination administration in the country but the national government has ignored our input.
The government seems to be lacking machines to test the drugs. And if the equipment is available they need to explain why they haven’t been testing all vaccines coming from the World Health Organization before administering to our children.”
He also stated that questionable vaccines must be tested and the results given to the public to reassure them of vaccination safety. Despite their requests for answers and reassurance, however, the Catholic Church reported that, once again, they have been ignored.
The Liberty Beacon contacted Dr. Wahome Ngare, a member of the Kenyan Catholic Doctors Association, to ask him for an update on the current situation. He told us that:
“We were completely locked out of the measles case. When the pathologist we commissioned went to the hospital for the postmortem, he found that it had been performed the day before and the bodies prepared for burial even though the burial date had not been set!
Furthermore, even the family appointed witness to the postmortems was not allowed to participate nor take any samples from the bodies. As it stands now, only the government was represented at the postmortem and only the government collected samples. From our past experience, there is not value in whatever results they will declare if at all they do.
It seems there was political pressure for the families to negotiate compensation as opposed to seeking answers as to the actual cause of death of the children.”
As usual, it appears that yet another vaccine tragedy has been covered up by government officials. Why was the government so keen for the postmortem results to be hidden from the Catholic Church, and why were the families own appointed witnesses prevented from attending the postmortem examinations?
It is easy to blame inexperienced staff for the deaths of these children; however, according to reports, these same staff had been vaccinating children for many years.
It is extremely sad that two nine month-old children have lost their lives after being given a vaccine already proven by the CDC and researchers from the University College of Medical Sciences to be inefficient in this age group, especially when you consider that these same researchers were questioning the timing of this vaccine as far back as 2011.