Probe launched into Syria 'vaccinated children' deaths
UNICEF and WHO suspend measles immunization program in northwest Syrian city of Idlib amid reports at least 15 vaccinated children have died

UN children's fund UNICEF and the World Health Organization have deployed a team of experts to Idlib inSyria following the deaths of at least 15 children who were reportedly vaccinated against measles.

The deaths of the children occurred in areas where a measles immunization campaign had been under way, the organization confirmed on Thursday.

WHO and UNICEF said in a joint statement: "UNICEF andWHO have been shocked and saddened to learn of the deaths of at least 15 young children in Idlib.

"WHO has deployed a team of experts to provide assistance to those carrying out the investigation in Idlib."

"Establishing the precise cause of the children’s deaths is vital. To that end, the WHO has deployed a team of experts to provide assistance to those carrying out the investigation in Idlib who will report back as soon as possible," the statement added.

The organizations said WHO had been providing advice and protocols for the investigation into "adverse events" following immunization.

The statement continued: "For as long as the facts remain unclear, the suspension of the immunization campaign in both Idlib and Deir ez-Zor provinces is a wise step.

"However, it is vital that immunization efforts against measles – a disease which is a leading killer of children worldwide – resume as soon as possible."

The Syrian opposition health ministry reported on Tuesday that at least 20 children aged between one and five had died earlier in the day after being vaccinated during campaigns supported by UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

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Last Modified: 2014-09-19 09:27:14
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