New panel will study recation to vaccines
16 May 2009, 0151 hrs IST, Madhavi Rajadhyaksha, TNN
MUMBAI: A one-month-old boy born to Mulund slumdweller Shivani Gaikwad died in February, a day after he was administered his first shot of routine immunisation for DPT (diptheria, pertussis and tetanus) and Hepatitis B at a local health post. The infant had cried incessantly after receiving the shots.
While the infant’s death is registered in the city’s civic records, the reason is yet to be known as no post-mortem was conducted. In a bid to investigate such deaths as well as adverse reactions that children suffer after vaccination, the BMC’s health department has recently set up a standing committee for surveillance in the city. The panel, comprising civic doctors and private paediatricians, will evaluate incidents of post-vaccination reactions among children–be it a mild fever or convulsions–investigate deaths and encourage private doctors to report any such cases.
While baby Gaikwad’s is an extreme case, 19 other children showed reactions such as swelling, rash and convulsions after being immunised in 2009.
** Note: It is likely the figure is much, much higher than 19.
TOI has procured civic records of vaccine-related reactions over the past three years and found that seven children died and 42 fell unwell in 2008. While doctors point out that the statistics aren’t alarming given that around 40 lakh children are routinely immunised in Mumbai every year, they certainly begged attention. The cases in 2008 are a sharp rise from the previous year’s two deaths and 26 reaction cases.
“Often, when a child dies after receiving a vaccine, it is assumed that it has caused the death. But this might not always be true. The committee will now scrutinise every reaction case in detail,” said Dr Mangala Gomare who heads BMC’s immunisation programme. According to health officials, deaths can be due to programmatic errors or poor immunity of the child.
The panel, which was set up in April, will meet every two to three months. The BMC has been approaching private hospitals and nursing homes encouraging them to report cases.
President of the Indian Association of Paediatrics (Mumbai) Dr Tanmay Amladi, who is working along with the BMC, said the surveillance would be helpful. “At an individual level, it would help answer the doubts of parents who have lost their children. At the same time, it would help us generate data on the percentage of side effects and adverse reactions,” he said.
Paediatricians said the surveillance system will go a long way in helping city kids. Paediatrician Nitin Shah, for instance, said the vaccine against rotavirus was withdrawn in the 1990s after a study in developed countries showed that children were suffering intestinal obstructions after receiving the vaccine. “Surveillance could help developing countries spread such awareness,” he said.