Paediatricians at government hospitals vouch for the safety of the pentavalent vaccine that is administered to children to prevent diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, Hepatitis B and infections like pneumonia and meningitis. The pentavalent vaccine that was administered at a Chennai Corporation health post in Otteri to the three-month-old baby Tanujashree, who died a few hours later, was procured from the Serum Institute of India in Pune by the government bearing the batch number 124P1035A with an expiry date of September 2013. The vaccine that the government has been administering is not available in the private market.

According to them, the hospitals have been administering the vaccine since December 2011 when it was introduced in the State as part of the Central government’s pilot programme. Doctors in government hospitals are expected to report to the Chennai Corporation every day about the number of children that are administered the vaccine and adverse reaction if any observed.

According to R. Narayan Babu, head of Department of Paediatrics, Government Kilpauk Hospital, the pentavalent vaccine has been effectively used in other countries. The MRP of the vaccine is Rs. 500 per dose but the price varies in private sector. At the government hospital, all the three doses of the vaccine are administered free of cost.

“It was decided to include the vaccine to prevent Hib in India because of the large number of meningitis infections found here,” Dr. Narayana Babu said. So far no child had exhibited any adverse reaction at the hospital, he added. Since the vaccine comes with a vial monitor, doctors would have information on whether the vaccine had been in cold chain.

When asked why the Institute of Child Health in Egmore had informed the police about the death, a senior official said the hospital had followed mandatory protocol. Paediatricians say that except in the case of poisoning, even preliminary results of the post-mortem may not reveal much information.

Corporation Health officials and forensic medicine experts said that they were awaiting results of the post-mortem examination. The viscera have been sent to the forensic laboratory for chemical analysis.

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