caused infant’s death in Chilaw
charge that a five-month old child had died
following the administration of vaccine has been
refuted by the Health Department.
A medical investigation into the death of the child
has revealed the infant had died due to an inborn
heart defect in Chilaw on March 22.
The child had died following a vaccination of
pentavalent –DPT-HepB-Hib given on March 22.
In a statement to the media Dr. Paba Palihawadana,
Head of the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of
Health said that preliminary inquiries into the
death of the child had revealed that the cause for
the child’s death was due to an irrevocable and
inborn heart disease.
She said that the child had been diagnosed with an
irrevocable and inborn heart disease by heart
specialists and paediatricians and that the child’s
parents had been duly informed that his life span
was short and there were no remedies for his
However, the doctors had also informed the child’s
parents that the child could be immunized in line
with his age. Accordingly the child had been
vaccinated with the BCG pentavalent dose 1 when he
was two months, and no after effects had been
It was only after he had been vaccinated with BCG
pentavalent dose 2 on 22.03.2011, that the child had
Commenting on the risk factor involving vaccinating
children with inborn heart diseases, she said that
children with inborn heart disease could be
“Vaccination producers of the World Health
Organisation do not say that children with heart
problems should not be vaccinated. Scientifically
vaccinating such children is more appropriate
because they can be more vulnerable to the epidemic
diseases prevented by the particular vaccine”, she
In Sri Lanka, although the rate of child mortality
is as low as 11 per 1,000 births, statistically it
amounts to as many as 4,000 children dying every
year, around 10-12 deaths every day.
Dr, Palihawadana said that over seven million
children were immunized under the National
Immunisation Programme on strictly safe conditions,
thereby preventing over 50,000 deaths from
She has therefore appealed to parents not to stop
immunizing their children due to adverse
consequences in a few children so far, which had
proved to be non-related to the vaccines given.