Forty-two families in Spain are pursuing legal action against a nurse whom they allege faked the process of administering routine vaccines to their children, their lawyer said Thursday.
The nurse worked for 18 months at a government clinic in Santurtzi, near the city of Bilbao in the Basque region of northern Spain, according to attorney Aitzol Asla.
The regional health service began an investigation in October after receiving complaints about the health worker's behavior.
When parents took their children to be vaccinated, Asla said, the nurse would inject them “very secretly, very fast,” and then “threw the vial directly into the garbage can." Some of the parents “saw (the vial) was still full,” he added.
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The nurse, who wasn't identified, also made frequent comments disparaging vaccines, the lawyer said.
When health officials tested the affected children’s blood, it was discovered that many didn't have the antibodies that would be expected from receiving the vaccines. The legal case centers on the nurse's falsification of vaccine records, which showed jabs had been administered when they allegedly hadn't, and misuse of public funds by throwing away unused medicines.
Beyond the families pursuing legal action, Spanish media reported that up to 400 children could be affected.
Asla is now awaiting court instructions for the families to appear and give testimony after filing the case last month, and said the parents want the nurse to be barred from working in the public health system.
Anti-vaccine sentiment is generally rare in Spain. The country has the second-highest rate of public confidence in vaccines in the European Union after Portugal, according to EU statistics released last year. Spanish government statistics show that uptake of most infant vaccinations is more than 90%.