Times of India
01 June 2011
New Delhi, India
The health ministry on Tuesday reacted to TOI’s report, which had stated that 128 children died in 2010 due to adverse effects following immunization (AEFI) and the casualty figures have persistently risen in the past three years. There were 111 and 116 deaths in 2008 and 2009, respectively. However, the ministry attributed only six fatalities to vaccine side–effects.
Calling vaccination one of the most cost–effective public health interventions to protect children against mortality, morbidity and disability across the world, the ministry listed 48 of the 128 deaths as coincidental, or causes other than vaccination; six were vaccine reactions and eight programming errors. In 72 cases, the reason was unknown – the investigation
done by experts did not lead to any definite conclusion on the cause of death.
“Around 18.3 lakh children under five years die every year due to various illnesses. These include 13.2 lakh children who die before reaching the age of one year and 9.4 lakh within the first month after birth. However, each AEFI is investigated, and an effort is made to establish the cause. Any disruption in cold chain may affect the potency, and thereby the efficacy of the vaccine, but can hardly cause deaths. In case of any contamination of vaccine to an extent that it would cause fatality, deaths of a greater magnitude would occur as any batch of vaccine is administered to a very large number of children,” a health ministry official said.
India has one of the world’s largest immunization programmes, aiming 2.6 crore kids each year. Each child is given four vaccinations in addition to injections at birth.