ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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'Pentavalent Vaccination' in Kashmir

The “pentavalent vaccine” for protection against five childhood diseases was introduced in Jammu and Kashmir in February 2013, as part of the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). Three doses of this vaccine replace the conventional DPT vaccine which protects against three diseases, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. The newer “pentavalent vaccine” includes the DPT as well as vaccines against pneumonia-meningitis (Hib) and hepatitis B.

In Srinagar, eight infant deaths were reported in the press between September and October this year following immunisation with this vaccine. Soon after these reports appeared, a team from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi, headed by Dr N K Arora of INCLEN (International Clinical Epidemiology Network), visited Srinagar to investigate into these deaths. While the final report of this team is awaited, their preliminary report has already stated that the children have died from causes like septicaemia and pneumonia, unrelated to the vaccine. This conclusion fails to explain why or how the babies were administered the vaccine in the first place if they were seriously ill at the time of immunisation.

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