Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
A Grade Seven pupil (12) at Nyongolo Primary School outside Hwange died after her body started swelling and her family suspects she reacted to the new typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) she received recently.
Ethel Tshuma from Village 8 in Lubangwe area was vaccinated on June 1 and died on Tuesday while admitted to St Patrick’s Hospital in Hwange.
Her body has been sent to Bulawayo for a post-mortem as health authorities are investigating the issue.
Hwange District Medical Officer Dr Fungayi Mvura said they are waiting for post-mortem results to know the cause of the death.
“We are still waiting for post-mortem results so we can know whether it was a reaction to the vaccine or anything else. For now we can’t give any details because the body has gone for a post-mortem,” she said.
Dr Mvura said there were no other incidents where kids had reacted which were formally reported.
The girl’s aunt Ms Memory Tshuma said Ethel’s arm where she was jabbed started swelling the day she was vaccinated on June 1 before the whole body got swollen.
She said the girl became unconscious and numb before she died on Tuesday at St Patrick’s Hospital in Hwange where she had been admitted.
Ms Tshuma said Ethel had no other known health condition before receiving the TVC and a cancer vaccine.
“She was jabbed twice as children were getting two vaccinations for typhoid and cancer, so she had two cards. I accompanied her to school for the vaccination as was the instruction from the school. She had no other condition and she started reacting when she got home. Her arm started swelling before her legs started swelling as well.
She became unconscious and could not speak and that’s when we rushed her to St Patrick’s Hospital where she was admitted but died on Tuesday,” said Ms Tshuma.
She said school and health authorities told the family that there were other children who reacted but Ethel’s situation was worse.
“They took the body for post-mortem in Bulawayo to investigate the cause of death and we are still waiting. We wanted to go with the body to Bulawayo but they said only police will go,” said Ms Tshuma.
The girl’s father Mr Sikhumbuzo Tshuma who is based in Botswana arrived in Lubangwe yesterday and said he was heartbroken by his daughter’s death.
Mr Fabian Ngwenya who is village head for the area said the whole community was shocked by the incident.
“We are still shocked as a community about what happened and the villagers want answers from authorities,” he said.
TCV helps to prevent typhoid fever, which is a life-threatening infection and outbreaks are increasing in the country.
Typhoid is a life-threatening condition caused by a bacteria called salmonella typhi and infection results in high death rates.
Government recently rolled out the vaccination to protect children aged below 15 years from typhoid which has was mainly detected in Bulawayo, Harare and Gweru.
The nationwide catch-up vaccination campaign integrated vaccines for polio prevention (IPV) and human papillomavirus (HPV) including Vitamin A supplementation.
Children below 15 years are most at risk as typhoid has become a public health burden in Zimbabwe, according to the Health Ministry.
The Vitamin A supplementation was administered to all children from six to 59 months to increase protection. — @leoncube