Arrests made for spreading false polio vaccine myth in Pakistan

Authorities in Pakistan arrested a man for spreading false rumours about polio vaccine


Pakistan authorities have arrested a man for allegedly spreading false rumours on the social media that the polio vaccine had led to fainting and vomiting among the children who were administered the vaccine. The move had prompted concern among parents to rush 25,000 children to the hospital and a mob of 500 people set fire at the local health centre. A news agency reported that the mob also held polio workers from the health centre which was identified as the Basic Health Unit, hostage for some time.

Apart from Afghanistan and Nigeria, Pakistan is also considered as one of the last polio bastions in the world. The unfound fears came as the health workers were carrying out a three-day vaccination campaign the country’s volatile Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that lies along the Afghanistan border. The place has also served as a sanctuary for Taliban and other Jihadi Groups. Such groups claim that the vaccine is a western conspiracy to harm or sterilize the children.

Deputy Superintendent of local police, Saddar Sahibzada Sajjad informed that the authorities have filed a police report against the identified individuals who set fire to the Basic Health Unit and causing widespread panic with rumours. Sajjad confirmed that they have arrested Nazar Muhammad for spreading misinformation and added that more arrests will be done in connection to the case. Pakistan Prime Minister’s spokesperson for polio matters Babar Bin Atta has vowed to take action against everyone who is involved in damaging the anti-polio campaign.

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says that polio is only endemic in three countries in the world – Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria and making them the last frontier for efforts to eradicate the naturally occurring cases of the virus. Babar pledged that he would continue the anti-polio campaign until the virus is completely eradicated from the country. Some of the videos that were circulated had shown false reports of children falling ill as they were made to sleep on the hospital beds on purpose to shoot a fake video.

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