Central Team Begins Probe Into Infant Deaths

Pentavalent Vaccine Not Cause Of Deaths: Taj

SRINAGAR: A five-member team of union health ministry has arrived here to  ascertain the cause of latest infant deaths in Kashmir that have taken place allegedly after being administered a vaccine under national immunization programme.

The team headed by Dr. N.K. Arora visited many government hospitals  in various districts of Kashmir today ascertaining the facts.  

Dr. Muneer Masoodi, superintendent of G.B. Pant hospital for children here said the team would assist investigations into the death of infants following administration of the vaccine given to protect infants from hepatitis-B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and Hib (haemophilus influenzae type-b).

Eight infants died in the Kashmir valley last week allegedly following administration of pentavalent vaccine in various hospitals.

 Six infants allegedly collapsed after the vaccination was administered to them in various district hospitals.

"The infants developed vomiting and severe allergic reaction which are very difficult to control after administration of pentavalent vaccine," he said.

The local doctors association has demanded a ban on pentavalent vaccine in the state, but it can only be done through an order of the union health and family welfare department, said the doctor.

Pentavalent vaccine, also known as Easy-Five, is given to protect infants from hepatitis-B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and Hib (haemophilus influenzae type-b).

Taj Mohi-u-Din, minister for medical education said: “We are ascertaining the facts from the ground. There are five infant deaths and we are ascertaining the cause. The central team is here but they are assisting us to find the cause of these deaths.”

Taj said that medical superintendent of G B Pant hospital had given an irresponsible statement wherein he had said that the two infant deaths that took place in the hospital Thursday evening were due to Pentavalent vaccine administered to these babies.

“The Medical Superintendent gave his verdict before ascertaining the facts. The central team in coordination with state authorities is ascertaining the facts and as the report comes, we will know what led to the death of five infants in Valley. Unfortunately, some people are blowing this number (five infant deaths) out of proportion, which is not a fact.

He informed that that Pentavalent vaccination is a government of Iida programme which is being implemented across the country and there are no reports of any adverse effects. “This vaccination programme is being implemented in the whole country and crores of children are being administered this vaccine. No adverse effects of this vaccination have been reported sofar.”

Pertinently, these deaths had sparked off widespread protests against G B Pant hospital administration.

The central team has visited Budgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag and Baramulla hospitals so far. 

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