Dozens of girls sick in Eq. Guinea after diphtheria-tetanus jabs

MALABO, Equitorial Guinea (AFP) — Dozens of girls fell ill after receiving the diphtheria-tetanus vaccine in schools in Equatorial Guinea’s economic capital Bata, but no deaths or serious cases were reported, the health ministry said Thursday.

On Wednesday, “102 girls from 11 schools in Bata were received at the Damian Roku Epitie Monanga regional hospital in Bata with the following symptoms: dizziness, agitation, weakness, headaches and pain in the left arm. Of the patients, 99 had been vaccinated between May 16 and 18 with the diphtheria/tetanus vaccine,” Deputy Health Minister Mitoha Ondo’o Ayekaba said in a statement read on national television.

“A total of 223 cases were recorded at the hospital, of which 190 were vaccinated and 33 were not vaccinated and show the same symptoms,” the statement said.

No serious cases or deaths have been recorded, the ministry said.

Of the 7,000 young women vaccinated in Equatorial Guinea during the African Vaccine Week with the same batch of vaccines which arrived in the small central African country in March 2020, only 1.4 percent have experienced adverse reactions, according to health authorities.

Equatorial Guinea’s health ministry has explained the situation as a “collective hysterical reaction.”

A group of experts from the World Health Organization is expected in the coming days to analyse the vaccine batch used.

The diphtheria/tetanus vaccine is given to young women of child-bearing age to prevent neonatal tetanus.

© Agence France-Presse