Vaccine to be tested following girl’s death

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Selma Ikela

Windhoek-The remainder of the batch of vaccine used to inject the three-year-old girl who was bitten by a dog but died after she was treated has been sent for toxicology analysis.

The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku, said yesterday at a press conference that the vial will be analyzed “to check if there is anything there”. The entire remaining vaccine batch will be sent for testing.

This follows the death of Mweneni du Plessis who was treated at Katutura hospital following her being bitten by a dog in Shandumbala on Thursday morning.

Du Plessis was taken to hospital where she was given an injection against rabies but died soon afterwards. Her father Matheus Nekwiyu said his daughter was not sick nor was she taking any medicine at the time. Hence Du Plessis’s family are seeking answers on what led to the little girl’s death.

During the press conference Haufiku said that in such a case one would like to find out what exactly happened.

“One has to wait to find out what the results of the investigations are. I just want to mention that the batch of vaccine from which this one was drawn is being kept and the vial was sent for toxicology analysis to check if there is anything there,” he said.

Haufiku said that he was informed that from the same batch other patients, both adults and children, were administered vaccines [but no one had died].

“But I am not saying the batch got no problem, please don’t get me wrong.

From the ministry and hospital’s point view we would not know much about what transpired at home up to hospital before the child was brought in for service and immediately after the child was given a vaccine. The question is – was there anything else the child was exposed to before she was brought to hospital or immediately after she got the vaccine? We don’t know,” said Haufiku, adding that this will become clear with the full history and links to the pathological investigation.

The minister said there are many possibilities and they can only speculate.

“The question would be – did the child react to the vaccine? As we know any human being can react to any type of medication. Was there something else in the vial, which is unlikely because it’s from a batch that is rigorously tested by machine? But we also don’t want to deny that there was nothing wrong. The investigation will determine.”

Haufiku further conveyed his condolences to the family and pleaded for patience from them and the community for the scientific investigation to run its course – and only then would they be able to pronounce themselves on the matter.

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