Four infants died in western Gujarat's Kutch on Wednesday and about five became critical within 15 minutes of their being administered the measles vaccine as part of a drive launched by the Gujarat government. The four who died were below one. Of the ones critical, all are below one and one is 16 months old.
The incident has forced the state health department to halt the vaccination drive in the state for a week while samples have been sent for examination to the Central Research Institute, Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh.
Chief minister Narendra Modi has directed the health authorities to conduct an enquiry into the incident. The state government has declared a compensation of Rs. 1 lakh to each of the bereaved families.
"Our preliminary investigation into the incident has revealed that the children who were vaccinated developed reaction and four children have succumbed while a few more are under treatment," Gujarat health minister Jaynarayan Vyas told HT.
"We have withdrawn the vaccination programme after the incident and also sent samples of the vaccine for examination," Vyas said, adding, "the vaccines were procured by the state health department and the expiry time was April 2012."
The vaccine was manufactured by Indian Immunologicals Ltd (IIL), a unit of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), and it produces shots for rabies, hepatitis B, measles, etc.
"One infant was vaccinated by a nurse in the field while three others were administered vaccine at Rambag Hospital in Adipur town," a senior health department official in Kutch said.
The post-mortem had been conducted and the reports had been sent to the state health department, he added.