Hundreds of young girls have been hospitalized after receiving the diphtheria-tetanus vaccine in schools in Bata, Equatorial Guinea’s economic capital, with no deaths or serious cases reported so far.
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, restlessness, weakness, headache and pain in the left arm. Among the patients, 99 had been vaccinated between May 16 and May 18 with the diphtheria/tetanus vaccine”explained the Deputy Minister of Health Mitoha Ondo’o Ayekabain a statement read on national television.
The next day, “A total of 223 cases have been registered in the hospital, of which 190 have been vaccinated and 33 unvaccinated and have the same symptoms” than the day before, he continued, adding that no serious cases or deaths have been recorded.
Of the 7,000 young women vaccinated as part of the african vaccination week in Equatorial Guinea with the same batch of vaccines (D2511), which arrived in this small Central African country in March 2020, only 1.4% received side effectsaccording to health authorities.
The Equatoguinean Ministry of Health retains the hypothesis of a “collective hysterical reaction” as the main explanation for the phenomenon.
A group of experts from the World Health Organization** (WHO) is nevertheless expected in the coming days to analyze the batch of vaccines used and to make a possible link with the hospitalizations.
The vaccine against diphtheria/tetanus is given to young women of childbearing age to prevent neonatal tetanus. It allows them to be protected as well as their newborn who does not yet have the immune abilities to defend.
Like any vaccine, it can cause Side effects usually mild as headaches or arm pain. It can also cause in less frequent cases dizziness, nausea or weakness, which disappear between 24 and 48 hours after its administration.