Samples Report Not Recd, Says Goa Officer After 2-Yr-Old Child Dies

Panji: The parents of a 23-month-old child who died in December last year after being administered a dose of yellow fever vaccine continue to wait for laboratory results to ascertain the cause of death.

The vaccine was administered to the entire family at Goa’s Panaji Urban Health Centre back in December ahead of a family trip to Kenya — where it is mandatory before travel.

The authorities have told them that an investigation has been launched to look into the possible causes according to protocols.

Parents Jonathan and Larissa recall the night of December 21 last year when their son fell ill after the vaccine shot.

He was taken to the family paediatrician who then gave him medicines suspecting stomach ailment.

The medicines didn’t improve the child’s health after which he was admitted in a hospital.

Around 10:50am, the child was declared dead at the Goa Medical College and Hospital.

“He was an active two-year old child and was playful throughout the day even after receiving the vaccine. He had no known issues or cardiac problems, but we were told he died of cardiac arrest. The doctors have said they are probing the case especially to check if there were any impurities in the vial,” Menezes said.

State immunization officer at the directorate of health services Dr Uttam Desai said that the state has launched a probe as per the standard operating procedure in wake of adverse events following immunization.

“We take every case seriously and each case is investigated. The findings are then deliberate upon by the causality committee (Causality Assessment Committee) which will submit its report in due course,” Dr Desai said adding that the investigation is still ongoing, and it will be premature to comment on the possible causes leading to the child’s death.

“Samples of the vaccine vial have been sent for testing to the government approved laboratory as is done in all serious adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) cases,” he added.

According to the family, besides the child, the child’s father Jonathan who received the vaccine from the same vial showed no symptoms nor did the other three unrelated persons (adults) who were given the vaccine from the same vial.

Following his death, doctors collected the child’s cerebrospinal fluid and blood samples which were sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) for viral panel tests.

A Covid test also revealed that the child wasn’t suffering from the viral illness. The report for Dengue also came negative.

“All the test results including the viral tests done on the blood and cerebrospinal fluid came back negative which means he had no viral infection prior to the vaccine dose being administered which could have caused a reaction, which means that he died as a result of the vaccine,” Menezes said adding that the symptoms and multiple organ failure that his son experienced after receiving the vaccine suggested it was a case of Yellow Fever Viscerotropic Disease, a known but rare adverse reaction to the vaccine.

“My aim is to hopefully get the authorities to modify SOPs and make people aware,” Menezes said.

“The nurses and staff need to inform patients receiving the vaccine to watch for symptoms of any kind at the time of receiving the vaccine. Even though adverse effects are rare they can and do happen and I believe my son was one of the victims of it,” Menezes said.

The parents continue to await results from the Himachal Pradesh institute that will help them know the cause of death of their child who was just short of his second birthday.

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