Pentavalent vaccine alert after suspicious deaths

Times of India | 5 Jan 2016

UNE: The state health department has banned the use of a particular batch of pentavalent vaccine -launched in November 2015 -after a two-month-old baby girl died in Ratnagiri district in December following vaccination.
The health department has directed health centres not to use vaccines from the batch till the safety aspect is investigated. The Adverse Effects Following Immunisation (AEFI) committee is expected to look into the cause of the child’s death.

“We have alerted health care units having vaccines from the batch to stop administering them till their safety is fully evaluated and established. Barring the particular batch, vaccination of the pentavalent vaccine is going on unhindered across the state,” said Archana Patil, additional director, State Family Welfare Bureau.

AEFI is a general term. It could be due to various reasons, including bad vaccine quality due to break in the cold chain, contamination and complications because of pre-existing conditions in the child.

“We have sent 10 vials rom the particular batch to the designated laboratory a Kasauli for analysis. We have directed health officials to stop its use forthwith. Vacci nes from the batch were sen to Nagpur, Akola, Auranga dad, Latur, Nashik, Kolha pur, Pune and Thane,” said a state health official. The baby girl was administered the vaccine at the state’s healthcare unit at Kolthar village in Dapoli taluka of Ratnagiri district on December 9. “The girl was vaccinated at 10am and she died around 6.50 pm the same day,” said a health official from Ratanagiri.

“Infant deaths after immunization are usually coincidental. These deaths have some other co-factors linked to them. However, the reasons for such deaths are investigated by the AEFI committees which have been set up in all districts,” said another state health official. Every year, 20 lakh babies are born in Maharashtra.

“Going by the infant mortality rate of 30 per 1,000 live births, we can expect at least 16 infant deaths every day.Such incidental deaths during vaccination are extremely unfortunate,” he added.
Infant deaths following immunization have been steadily rising in Maharashtra.The health department’s report released in May last year pegs infant deaths after immunization in 2009-10 at 33, up from 26 and 15 in 2008-09 and 2007-08 respectively.

The Union health ministry’s statistics obtained under the RTI Act shows that 128 children died in 2010 in the country due to AEFI. That count has increased in the past three years. Calling vaccines safe, paediatricians claimed that side-effects like mild fever were common.

Adverse reactions occur in one out of 10 to 20 million doses globally, they added.

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