New Delhi: Amid reports that more children in India are dying every year soon after being vaccinated, the government today said only six deaths out of the 128 that
occurred following immunisation last year were confirmed vaccine reactions.
The Union Ministry of Health also said in case of any contamination of vaccine to an extent that it would cause fatality, deaths of a greater magnitude would occur.
The comments came soon after an RTI reply brought out that 128 children died in 2010 due to adverse effects after immunisation (AEFI). The number has risen in the past three years, with 111 such deaths in 2008 and 116 in 2009.
According to the ministry, analysis of the reported cases showed that among the 128 deaths, 48 were "co-incidental" -- death due to illness and causes other than vaccination and in 72 cases the reason was unknown as the investigation done by experts did not lead to any definite conclusion on the cause of death. Only six were vaccine reactions, it said. Eight deaths were due to other reasons.
AEFIs are closely monitored but may not necessarily be related to vaccination, it said adding, 18.3 lakh children under five years die every year due to various illnesses.
These include 13.2 lakh 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 etc 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," it said.