U.N. Stops Syria Vaccine Campaign After 15 Children Die

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The United Nations says it has stopped a vaccination campaign in northern Syria after at least 15 young children died. The World Health Organization, part of the UN, says it’s investigating. It’s not at all clear that the vaccines killed the children, WHO says, but it’s worth checking. “The deaths of the children — all of whom were less than two years of age — occurred in districts where a measles immunization campaign had been under way,” the U.N. children’s organization UNICEF and WHO said in a joint statement.

“Establishing the precise cause of the children’s deaths is vital,” the statement added. U.N. workers have been vaccinating children in Syria, especially refugee children, since a measles outbreak started in early 2013. Thousands of children have been infected with the highly contaguous virus. "For as long as the facts remain unclear, the suspension of the immunization campaign in both Idlib and Deir Ezzour provinces is a wise step," WHO and the UN said. "However, it is vital that immunization efforts against measles — a disease which is a leading killer of children worldwide — resume in Syria as soon as possible. Measles is a particular threat to children who have been displaced from their homes and communities, and who are living in camps or other insanitary conditions.”


— Maggie Fox