Fri, Apr 13, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Infant’s death not likely due to vaccination: CDC

SHORTAGE:Taiwan last year switched to the six-in-one vaccine and 170,000 doses have been administered without any reports of severe reactions, the CDC said

By Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff writer, with CNA

The entrance to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control in Taipei is pictured on Wednesday.

Photo: Lin Hui-chin, Taipei Times

A six-in-one vaccine was not the likely cause of death of a nine-month-old boy in Taichung last year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.

In May last year, the boy received the six-in-one vaccine, which protects against diphtheria, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b, whooping cough, polio and tetanus.

In August, the boy exhibited symptoms of a cold, as well as a fever and drowsiness, and developed a hard lump at the injection site, local media reported.

Doctors told the boy’s family that he might have cellulitis, a common bacterial skin infection, media reports said.

The boy later died from septic shock caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, media reported.

Reports said that the boy’s family suspected that the vaccine caused his death.

The CDC said in a statement that, based on the date the boy was vaccinated and the course of the infection, the initial finding is that the vaccine was unlikely to be the cause of his death.

Common reactions to the six-in-one vaccine include redness and soreness at the injection site, CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said.

Sometimes, infants exhibit symptoms such as drowsiness, loss of appetite or vomiting, he said, adding that infants usually recover from these side effects within two to three days.

The boy received the vaccine in May, but showed no symptoms until August, Chuang said.

Normally, complications caused by vaccines appear one to two days after the vaccination, Chuang said.

If the vaccine had been infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa in production, the entire batch should have caused problems, not just an individual case, he added.

In the past, infants would receive a hepatitis B vaccine and a third dose of the five-in-one vaccine — which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b — at six months of age, Chuang said.

Last year, because of a global shortage of hepatitis B vaccines, Taiwan switched to the six-in-one vaccine, he said.

To date, 170,000 doses of the six-in-one vaccine have been used and the CDC has not received any reports of severe reactions, he added.

The CDC said that if the family suspects the boy’s death to be related to the vaccine it could apply for relief funds for victims of immunization to help pay for an investigation into the cause of death.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common bacterium that is common in human intestines and the environment and can easily attack people who have a weak immune system, such as infants below the age of two or people who use antibiotics for prolonged periods, Chuang said.

Once infected, a necrotizing soft tissue infection — which is a rare, but very severe type of bacterial infection caused by septic embolism — can develop within a short time, Chuang said, adding that such infections have a fatality rate of between 30 and 50 percent.

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