india's Universal Immunisation Programme may suffer yet another blow. The centre has asked all state governments to stop use of measles vaccine manufactured by Indian Immunological Limited, until

AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa on Monday urged Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi to take steps to prevent the Andhra Pradesh government from going ahead with its plans to construct 10 checkdams across the Ponnaiyaru. In a statement here Ms Jayalalithaa said the Ponnaiyaru was the source of drinking water for Vellore, Kancheepuram, Thiruvallur and Thiruvannamalai districts and construction of check dams would deprive these districts of their drinking water supply. The Ponnaiyaru originates in Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh and confluences with the Palar in Thiruvalam near Vellore.

Four 10-month-old babies died within minutes of being administered an antimeasles vaccine at two medical camps in Tamil Nadu's Thiruvallur district on Wednesday. Three girls died at a centre in Pennalurpettai village, about 75km from Chennai. The fourth, a baby boy, died after getting the shot in Venkatapuram village near Tiruttani, 35km from Thiruvallur. In a knee-jerk reaction, the state administration suspended two public health nurses as well as the measles immunization programme across the state.

The sudden death of four children after they were administered measles vaccine in primary health centres in Tamil Nadu's Tiruvallur district is a grievous tragedy. That the deaths should occur in a State with a better record of health services delivery at the primary level is ironical. The involvement of the vaccine belonging to the same batch in different health centres seems to indicate problems with quality, which could have occurred at the point of manufacture, d uring transfer or storage.

The Centre has recalled the measles vaccine, after the administration of which four children died in Tamil Nadu's Tiruvallur district on Wednesday. Instructions have been issued to the States to stop the use of this vaccine until further orders, while the manufacturer has been asked to not to make any further supply, Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss told journalists here on Thursday. An experts committee would enquire into the causes of the death and submit its report within two weeks. Thereafter action would be taken, he said.

MEASLES vaccine comes in powder form. It must be used immediately after it is mixed with a fluid, says Dr Jacob John, former professor of the Department of Clinical Microbiology and Virology . Multi-vial doses of these vaccines must be used within four hours; else they will act as a medium for growing bacteria that can secrete toxins, he says.