Hyderabad: The administration of the pentavalent vaccine has led to a sudden spike in the number of deaths according to a study published in the peer-reviewed Wolters Kluwer Health’s Journal, a publication of the Dr DY Patil University. However, paediatricians in the city say that a single study is not conclusive; more evidence is needed to prove that the deaths are related to vaccination.
The pentavalent vaccine (PV) was included in the immunization schedule for children in December 2011. It has been introduced by states in a phased manner. Formerly, a trivalent vaccine for Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus (DPT) used to be administered. The PV provides immunization against Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) and Hepatitis B as well.
In the study, deaths caused by the DPT vaccine and the PV vaccine were compared, and it was found that the PV vaccine had a higher death rate associated with it.
Dr Sharmila Kaza, a consultant paediatrician at Apollo Hospital, said, “The study does not reflect reality. The findings need to be validated through further studies. The increase in deaths associated with the PV vaccine may be due to improved surveillance systems. This study has not examined the long-term reduction in mortality, which is important.”
Surveillance systems are used to record the number of deaths that occur after vaccination. They are used to better understand the efficacy and side-effects of vaccines.
Senior Paediatrician Dr Raghavendra Reddy, says, “The PV vaccine has proven effective. The increase in mortality within the first 72 hours of administration needs to be studied further. There could be underlying conditions that have not been evaluated. The PV vaccine helps fight diseases that strike children below the age of five. There is a reduction in mortality of children under-five, which is one of its major goals.”
The study was conducted by Dr Jacob Puliyel, the Head of Paediatrics at St Stephen’s Hospital, and Dr V. Sreenivas, a Professor of Biostatistics at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.