In early January, the website VacTruth published a blog post by Christina England about how meningitis vaccination in a small town in Chad (northern Africa) paralyzed 40 children. The blog quoted an anonymous relative of one child and spoke of parents being paid off not to talk about the paralysis. The only other source was LaVoix, a weekly print-only paper in Chad.
The meningitis vaccine that VacTruth claims has caused the paralysis is called MenAfriVac and is manufactured by Serum Institute of India Limited. This vaccine is unique because it can travel outside of the cold chain. VacTruth claims that 40 out of 500 children vaccinated with MenAfriVac in the town of Gouro were paralyzed. That is 8% of all vaccinated.
According to the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP), in December 2012, MenAfriVac was administered to its 100 millionth person in the “meningitis belt” of Africa, which includes Chad. The vaccine has been on the market for two years after being introduced in Burkina Faso, and has been administered to millions of others outside of Africa. Further research by Vaccine Watch can find no other cases of paralysis from MenAfriVac.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and other agencies have been working to control a severe meningitis outbreak in Chad since 2011. The symptoms stated in the VacTruth article are consistent with a meningitis outbreak, and not a reaction to the vaccine.
All meningitis vaccines, including MenAfriVac need to be administered individually, as they can have adverse reactions when mixed with other vaccinations. Because of the meningitis outbreak in Chad and other variables that could have affected the administration of MenAfriVac, Vaccine Watch believes it is premature to jump to conclusions that the injuries these children have are because of MenAfriVac.
The Meningitis Vaccine Project currently has a team in Chad investigating the claims first published by La Voix. Vaccine Watch will continue to watch for developments on this story and seek the truth from reliable sources. Readers should be wary of sites like VacTruth that distribute misinformation without reliable sources.