March 14th, 2010
By DC Correspondent , DC Correspondent
New Delhi, March 13: The death of three tribal girls living in a common hostel who were administered the cervical cancer vaccine in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh has shaken the tribal community in this region.
The girls, 13-year old Sarita, 13-year old Sodi Sayamma and a third girl with no history of medical illness were administered the vaccine against the HPV virus called Gardasil.
Dr Rukani Rao of the Hyderabad-based Gramya Resource Centre for Women confirms that activists working in the Khammam district learnt about the recent deaths of these girls following the administration of the vaccine.
“We learnt that one of the girls died due to convulsions while another had a epileptic fit. But the doctors there are passing these deaths off as cases of suicide,” said Dr Rao.
Dr B. Jaikumar, district immunity officer, Khammam, who heads the implementation of this programme, however, insisted that these deaths were caused by suicide.
“The three post-mortems show that these are cases of suicide. The 14,000 girls who were administered this vaccine showed mild side effects such as headaches and swellings but nothing serious,” said Jaikumar.
When asked what the age group of the girls who had been administered these drugs, Dr Jaikumar told this newspaper, “On an average, we took 2,000 girls from each of the age groups of 10, 11 up to 14 years of age before the girls become sexually active.”