The centre has banned all measles vaccine manufactured by Indian Immunological Limited (IIL) that is suspected to have caused the death of four infants in Tamil Nadu’s Thiruvallur district. All states have also been told to stop using the vaccine until further orders.
In Chennai, state Health Minister MRK Pannerselvam told the Assembly the children who died might have had an “extreme allergic” reaction to the drug. He said 276 children in Thiruvallur district — in which the two villages fall — as well as 20,000 others in the rest of the state who had been injected with the same anti-measles vaccine were safe and have not shown any adverse reaction. The minister denied the vaccines had expired, saying the expiry date was February 2010.
Pending a detailed enquiry, four nurses and one medical supervisor of the public health department have been suspended, Pannerselvam told the Assembly. The DMK government has announced Rs 3 lakh in compensation to each of the four families that lost a child — three girls and one boy all below the age of one.
Samples of the vaccine manufactured and supplied by IIL — a wholly owned subsidiary of the PSU National Diary Development Board — have been sent to the Central Drugs Laboratory in Kasauli for quality testing.
A five-member fact-finding team left for Tamil Nadu on Thursday with scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research, National Institute of Communicable Diseases, Directorate General of Health Services and Drug Controller General of India. Experts of the National Polio Surveillance Project of the WHO are already there to assist state government officials.
“The team will visit the affected area to test the quality of vaccine, status of the cold chain — the temperature at which the vaccine is to be stored to keep it from turning toxic — quality of diluents and problems with distribution and administration of the vaccine, including human error that may have led to the deaths. We will take action, if needed, after the team files its report,” said Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss.