A rumor which said that polio vaccine causing death of children across the Kashmir valley caused a situation of panic in the hospitals of state. Parents in the region took their babies to the nearest hospital as soon as they came to know about the rumor.
Buses, jeeps, cars, autos and bikes with children along with their parents on road became a common sight as the rumor spread across social media, especially WhatsApp. Weeping mothers started requesting doctors to cure their children.
The cases were so many, that the GB Pant Children’s hospital was forced to close its out-patient section for a while. Thousands of people flocked the hospital campus to approach doctors. Other medical institutions such as SKIMS, SMHS and JLNM also observed similar situation.
Agitated parents even assaulted some doctors when they tried to explain them the reality of a situation. The people were asking for an antidote of the polio vaccine. Finally, the government requested all broadcast media, radio and television, to spread the message about fake information. The Mosques also requested parents to stop panicking.
The state police are now investigating how the rumor was spread through WhatsApp and Facebook. According to the data released by Mandeep Bhandari, Health Secretary, 1.95 million children were given polio vaccine in the Jammu and Kashmir during latest eradication drive. The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has provided 2.5 million units of polio vaccine drops to the state.
The health secretary also clarified that there is no truth in the reports of negative effects of polio vaccine. The state officials maintained that someone must have started it as a rumor and few anti-social elements may have picked it up to cause trouble in the Kashmir valley.
Authorities denied any harm to the children and informed that the polio vaccine will be given to each child below five years of age in the Kashmir valley.