The Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) will investigate the death of two infants, who died three days after they received their immunizations at a health center in Lapu-Lapu City.
“We will see if the deaths are directly related to the immunization or if they died from a separate illness,” said DOH-7 Director Dr. Jaime Bernadas.
According to Bernadas, the investigation which will be conducted by the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (Resu) will involve a check on the parents, the health center and also the hospitals where the infants were brought.
The families of three-month-old Ghirvaughn Mcreign Igoy-Limpangog and four-month-old Ayesha Mae Suson, called for the probe believing that both children died as a result of the vaccination.
A formal complaint was lodged before DOH-7, Tuesday morning, by Ariel Igoy, Ghirvaughn’s grandfather.
“Nagtuo ko nga na overdose sa bakuna o ba kaha duna’y expired nga bakuna ilang naapil sa mga bag-o og posibli maoy nakaingon sa kamatayon sa mga bata (I suspect that the babies died from an overdose of the vaccine or maybe there was an expired vaccine that got included in the new ones, possibly causing the death of the children),” said 45-year-old Igoy.
According to Igoy, based on records of the Abuno Health Center in Barangay Pajac, his grandchild received two doses of Pentavalent vaccine instead of just one which, he believed, might have caused the “overdose.”
“Nagtuo sab g’yud ko nga ilang gitingub ang duha ka separate nga bakuna kay sa record niya duha man ang nakabutang didto (I also believe that they administered two separate doses at one time because the record shows two were administered),” the boy’s mother 20-year-old Gian Igoy told Cebu Daily News at the wake of her son.
Sought for comment, Lapu-Lapu City Health Officer Dr. Rodulfo Berame explained that expired vaccines or medicines could not have been used because the health office always checks on the expiration dates of the vaccines and medicines.
Dr. Berame also dismissed Igoy’s claim that the vaccine was administered twice on his grandchild as the midwives and other health professionals assigned in health centers, Berame said, are properly trained to immunize.
Pajac Barangay Captain Jimmy Ybañez, also attested to the competence of the midwife who administered the vaccine as she has been doing her job for around 20 years already, said Ybañez.
“Dugay naman na siya nga naghimo anang pagpamakuna pero nganong karon pa man duna’y naingon ana nga kahibalo man g’yud na siya ana (She has long been doing vaccinations but it is only now that this has happened when she knows her job very well),” said Ybañez.
“Basin wala ra magsaba ang mga ginikanan ana nga duna na’y gipamati daan ang ilang mga bata unya nag-apas sa bakuna kay mahal baya ni kon adto sa clinic (Maybe the parents just did not tell the health staff that their babies had pre-existing conditions and were just really after the free vaccine since immunizations are costly if done in clinics).” said Dr. Berame in a separate interview.
Pentavalent is supposed to be administered on infants once every three months over a period of five quarters, added Berame.
A check on the web shows that the vaccine provides protection to a child from five life-threatening diseases: Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Hepatitis B and Hib. Together, the combination is called Pentavalent.
The vaccine, which can be given to any child aged more than 6 weeks and up to 1 year of age, has not been associated with any serious side effects.
The death certificates of the two infants showed that Ghirvaughn died of meningitis while Ayesha died of dehydration.
Ayesha also died last Saturday, November 11 at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) or three days after she received her immunization at the health center in Sitio Abuno.
Lenlen Suson, Ayesha’s mother, is bent on filing a case for negligence against the midwife who administered the vaccine for allegedly being careless.
Suson claims Ayesha was healthy prior to the immunization and an overdose of the vaccine or the use of “expired” medicines may have caused the baby to weaken leading to her death.
The World Health Organization (WHO) lists redness, swelling, and pain at the limb site where the vaccine was given as common side effects of Pentavalent. These symptoms usually appear the day after the injection has been given and could last from one to three days.
The children may also sometimes develop fever for a short time after immunization, according to WHO.
For his part, Igoy said that they have no plans to file a case in court for the death of Ghirvaughn.
“We just want to create awareness so that this won’t happen again to others,” he told CDN in Cebuano.
Before his untimely death, Ghirvaughn’s family scheduled his Christening this Sunday, November 19. Instead, he will be buried at Humay-Humay Public Cemetery in Barangay Gun-ob, Lapu-Lapu City, after a requiem Mass at 1 p.m. today.
Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza has tasked the City Legal Office to conduct an investigation on the infants’ deaths. with Jessa Mae O. Sotto