Fifteen young children have died in a botched measles vaccination campaign that saw people as young as 12 years old administering the vaccines, South Sudan’s government announced Friday.
The United Nations said the children died of “severe sepsis/toxicity” from the contaminated vaccine, and the health ministry blamed the deaths on human error. One syringe was used for all the children during the four-day campaign, and the vaccine was stored without refrigeration the entire time.
Measles is yet another challenge facing the desperately poor East African country that already has been devastated by more than three years of civil war and a recently declared famine, as well as a cholera outbreak.
The government said all of the children who died were under the age of five. It is setting up a commission to determine who is responsible and whether victims’ families will be compensated.