Former Punjab SMO booked for spreading misinformation on MR vaccine
On a complaint by the district health department, the local police have registered a case against a senior medical practitioner for allegedly spreading misinformation about the ongoing measles-rubella (MR) vaccination campaign.
The accused, identified as Dr Amar Singh Azad, is a former official of the Punjab health department, who worked as senior medical officer (SMO) in various civil hospitals across the state before he retired in 2007.
The case has been registered against him under Sections 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public function), 505 (1) (making, publishing or circulating any statement, rumour or report) and 153 (promoting enmity between different groups and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the IPC act.
Questions vaccination drives in Facebook posts
In one his Facebook posts, Dr Azad, a resident of Patiala, stated that a “vaccine hysteria” has been created by the “vested interests” based on fear and it is being projected that if a child is not vaccinated, the repercussions will be serious.
Dr Azad also raised questions over the immediate need of initiating such a campaign, besides asking parents to protect their right to informed consent.
“With all the uncertainty surrounding the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it’s critical to protect your right to make independent health choices and exercise voluntary consent to vaccination,” he stated in his post.
Dr Azad also circulated such messages through WhatsApp, following which Patiala civil surgeon Harish Malhotra registered a complaint with senior superintendent of police (SSP) S Bhoopati and deputy commissioner Kumar Amit on Wednesday.
“Such actions have dented the campaign to some extent and it is a sorry state of affairs that a senior medical practitioner has come up with such baseless views,” Malhotra said.
He added that they have got clear-cut instructions from the health department to initiate stringent action against such rumour-mongers.
“We have also filed another complaint against one of the students’ unions for supporting Dr Azad and spreading such rumours among the public,” he said.
‘Will be nabbed soon’
Superintendent of police (SP) Harwinder Singh Virk said a case has been registered against the doctor, who will be arrested at the earliest.
‘Just gave my logical opinion’
When contacted, Azad said he just gave his logical opinion based upon international studies related to anomalies in such vaccination campaigns.
“My motive was not to derail any campaign, but just to sensitise people on the basis of my 50-year experience in medical profession,” he said.