A two-and-a-half year old baby from Soonagahalli in Mandya, died a few hours allegedly after being administered pentavalent vaccine.
This comes just one month after three newborn babies died within a span of a few days. The parents had claimed that faulty pentavalent vaccines had caused the deaths.
Pentavalent vaccine is administered to babies for five diseases – diphtheria, cough, tetanus, hepatitis B and influenza B. The vaccination is a part of the Universal Immunisation Programme. Though there has been fear against vaccination drives, government and health experts have repeatedly stated these fears are unfounded.
According to doctors at Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences, the baby was declared brought dead on the morning of April 6. “The PHC (Primary Health Centre) at Soonagahalli had told the parents to bring her to MIMS. But the baby was brought dead,” a doctor from MIMS said.
Officials from the Health and Family Welfare Department said that the cause of death is yet to be ascertained and that the report from the forensic lab is awaited.
Speaking to the media, Dr Ramachandra Bairy, Joint Director of Immunization, said that a probe is being conducted into the infant’s death. He also confirmed that the same batch of drugs administered to the three other babies was used for the baby who died on Friday.
“The department has not yet taken any decision on whether the drugs from the same batch must be recalled. Many babies have been vaccinated without any harm in other districts. We will know the cause of death after the forensic report arrives,” he said.
An investigation conducted by the Health Department into the three infant deaths in February had revealed that one of the babies, Preetam, died of pneumonia, and another baby, Namratha, had passed away due to sepsis. However, the forensic report of the third baby, Bhuvan, is still awaited.
“For baby Bhuvan, the forensic report from Kasauli is awaited,” the official added.
The families of these newborns had complained that the deaths had happened after Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers had vaccinated them with doses of pentavalent vaccine. Parents of two of these children had reported that they were crying inconsolably after being given the vaccine. These children were later rushed to Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences for treatment.
Parents of the children who died and some of them who had fallen ill sat in protest in front of the hospital demanding justice. They also sought that the government take action against the nurses and ASHA workers who had injected the vaccine.