In a bizarre incident, three elderly women were recently administered rabies vaccine when they went to get COVID-19 jab in Kandhla area of Shamli in western Uttar Pradesh.
After the district Magistrate ordered an inquiry, a pharmacist was suspended and a show-cause notice had been issued to the medical superintendent of the community health centre on Friday.
According to local sources, the incident came to light when one of the women felt side-effects such as dizziness and nausea after the inoculation. When she approached a private doctor, she showed him the slip handed over to her at the community health centre. It mentioned she was given rabies vaccine.
In a video, one of the women identified as Anarkali could be heard saying she went to get vaccinated against COVID-19 but the officials vaccinated her against dog bite. “I started feeling giddiness. The doubt was confirmed when we asked if they need to submit copies of their Aadhaar cards. The official on duty said Aadhaar card is not needed in vaccination against dog bite.”
Confirming the incident, Jasjeet Kaur, district Magistrate, Shamli, said, “The affected women are in their late 60s and early 70s. Instead of approaching the COVID-19 vaccine OPD [outpatient department], they stood in the line at general OPD and said ‘tika laga do’ [get us vaccinated].”
Ms. Kaur told The Hindu that prima facie it appeared to be a lapse by the pharmacist because even if they stood in the wrong line, the question arose how the decision was taken to give them rabies vaccine.
“An inquiry has been ordered and the SDM [Sub-Divisional Magistrate] and Additional Chief Medical Officer have been asked to submit their report by evening. The responsibility will be fixed and action will be taken against the erring officials,” Ms. Kaur said.
The inquiry, Ms. Kaur said, established that the pharmacist was at fault and hence he has been suspended. “On Thursdays, the rabies vaccine is administered. Out of ignorance, the women stood in that line. The pharmacist should have been careful. He didn’t follow the SOP.”
Sanjay Agarwal, Chief Medical Officer, Shamli, said there was no adverse effect of the rabies vaccine and the women recorded their statement before the SDM.
“The district Magistrate has ordered an inquiry, and we are waiting for the report.”