This is with reference to the report “Vaccine-related deaths on the rise since 2008” (May 29). Some of the data in the article and the accompanying headline need clarification. India has made very real progress in saving children's lives. For example, it is statistically invalid to simply state the number of deaths occurring after vaccination, without revealing the total number of children who received vaccines in recent years. According to the government's own surveys, the number of children who received immunisations rose from 45.9 per cent in 2002-2004 to 54 per cent in 2007-2008. Given this increase, it could be that the percentage of adverse events following immunisation is not increasing and might well be decreasing.
The Centre began strengthening the current iteration of the AEFI monitoring system only in 2004. Thus a rise in the number of deaths may very well be a result of improved monitoring and reporting. These unfortunate deaths should not preclude an acknowledgement of the value of vaccines and the overwhelmingly positive impact they have had in India.
Dr. Panna Choudhury, New Delhi