There was panic yesterday among parents of school children in Akure, Ondo State capital, as rumours spread that some pupils had died after they were given suspected deadly vaccine by unidentified soldiers.
Many parents withdrew their children from schools before closing hours but were resisted by the schools’ management.
As early as 9 am, rumours filtered that about 20 soldiers invaded some schools at Ore, headquarters of Odigbo Local Government Area, and allegedly administered vaccine on some school children.
Three of such children were rumoured to have died.
But it was learnt that the rumour, which also went viral on social media, was unfounded.
At many schools in Akure and neighbouring towns of Oba-Ile, Ilaramokin and Ifon, no soldier was sighted.
Anxious parents stormed many public and private schools in the state capital to withdraw their children.
This caused chaos at Fiwasaye High School in Alagbaka area of the town.
Also, police officers were drafted to man gates of the schools.
The situation made it difficult for any individual to enter the schools.
The management of Ejioba High School at Oba-Ile, a suburb of Akure, hurriedly released their pupils and the headteacher, to address reporters.
The school said the Ministry of Education instructed headteachers not to comment on the matter.
Army authorities denied the allegation, saying none of its officers was involved in administering a vaccine in the state.
Spokesman of the Nigerian Army Artillery in Akure, Major Ojo Adelegan, stressed that no officer can administer a vaccine on a child for any reason.
He urged the public to consider the rumour as the handiwork of detractors.
Adelegan said: “There was nothing like that. No officer administered a vaccine on any child in any part of the state. It was a mere rumour, which only exists in the minds of those peddling it. Pupils should continue with their studies and parents should not be worried by the rumour.”
Also, the Ondo State government described the rumour as baseless and unfounded.
It called on the citizenry to disregard it.
A statement by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Yemi Olowolabi, quoted the government: “Real-time investigation across the state has shown that none of such things exist in Ondo State.”
Meanwhile, the Ondo State Health Commissioner Dr Wahab Adegbenro has urged parents and guardians to disregard rumours about some deadly vaccine allegedly administered on pupils by “unknown soldiers”.
The commissioner described the report as untrue.
He said there was no immunisation campaign in the state, besides the routine immunisation at health facilities.
Adegbenro said the people would be notified whenever there was an immunisation campaign.
He urged residents not to misconstrue the current net campaign for an immunisation.
The Health commissioner noted that the state’s vaccines were potent enough, adding that the people will be notified when a vaccination takes place.
Adegbenro appealed to heads of educational institutions not to allow any immunisation in their schools until the government so directs.
He reassured residents that the government places a high premium on health and lives.