Infant dies after rotavirus vaccination

A two-month old baby in south Delhi’s Jaitpur died a week after being administered the rotavirus vaccination, triggering allegations by her parents that the vaccine killed her.

Iqra was given the injection as a part of the third and last phase of the clinical trial of the vaccine by the Centre for Health Research and Development (CHRD), the Delhi regional centre of the NGO, Society for Applied Sciences. It is part of a routine immunisation procedure through “outreach activities”.

Rotavirus is one of the major causes of diarrhoea in children and accounts for almost 40 per cent of diarrhoea deaths in children. Vaccination is important for this form of diarrhoea because of the severe manifestations and high mortality rate, said an AIIMS doctor.

“A committee at the Serum Institute of India is finding out the details. The full report is awaited and will be mostly available by tomorrow,” said Dr T S Rao at the Biotechnology Department. The vaccine was sponsored by the Serum Institute of India, Pune. The trial is also going on in Vellore, Chennai, Pune and Manipal.

Police said they are awaiting the autopsy report of the child before a decision is made to file a first information report (FIR). The Medical Council of India (MCI) would be informed if the report suggests a case of medical negligence, said a senior police officer.

Iqra’s parents alleged that their otherwise healthy baby’s condition turned bad a day after she was injected on November 28.

“She began suffering from fever and cried unusually lot after that. I would give her the prescribed medicines and the fever would go down only to return soon,” Iqra’s mother Afsana told Deccan Herald.

The baby was doing fine on Thursday, but on Friday morning Afsana suddenly noticed froth emanating from Iqra’s nose and mouth. Her husband Mohd Shahbuddin, an auto driver, called up CHRD, but before their staff could reach the spot, the infant had died. It is the froth that makes the family suspect vaccination causing the death.

“We did not inform the NGO staff about the death and waited for them to reach our house. Then we held them back and informed police who arrived to take them away,” said Iqra’s uncle Masood Khan.

Afsana said CHRD members had visited her home, and given her a mobile phone, a small blanket and Rs 500 in return for letting Iqra be vaccinated. “They even offered us free pick and drop facility to the NGO’s camp in Devli,” Afsana said as she showed the phone and blanket.

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