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Family seek answers into newborn’s death

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The family of a six-week-old baby who died shortly after being vaccinated are demanding a full investigation into her death.

Zylah Booysen. Picture Soraya Crowie

THE FAMILY of a six-week-old baby who died shortly after being vaccinated are demanding a full investigation into her death.

Roodepan High School educator, Alwyn Booysen, said there were a lot of unanswered questions because his granddaughter, Zylah Booysen, was in perfect health prior to being vaccinated on April 9 at the Roodepan clinic.

“The only minor issue was that she had a bit of a blocked nose when they checked her.

“On the way back home from the clinic, my daughter Courtneigh Booysen, 21, told me that Zylah was crying and was starting to turn blue in the face while she was struggling to breathe. We rushed her to the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital (RMSH).

“Zylah’s oxygen level dropped rapidly and she was placed on an oxygen nozzle and was treated in the intensive care unit (ICU). X-rays were also taken.”

He stated that he was at first hopeful that Zylah would recover.

Alwyn Booysen and his wife Beatrice Booysen. Picture: Soraya Crowie

“The family was devastated when she did not make it. We signed the release forms at the mortuary and the funeral undertaker collected her body. After two hours, they phoned us to bring back the body so that they could do an in depth autopsy.

“We were informed that the results of the post mortem would be available within about two weeks. Depending on the outcome, we will decide on the way forward. We do not blame anyone for her death but we would like closure. Perhaps by speaking out, it will help to save another life.”

He added that his daughter was very brave during the funeral on April 16 but added that she was extremely traumatised.

“I have never witnessed such a close bond between a mother and her child. They were inseparable. Although Zylah only lived for such a short time, she had an impact on so many lives. She was loved by everyone. The support of family, friends and colleagues has really assisted us through this difficult time.”

Spokesperson for the Department of Health Lulu Mxekezo confirmed that the baby was admitted to the ICU at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital (RMSH) and was placed on ventilation.

“The baby died later in the evening. The department conveys its deepest condolences to the bereaved family.”

Mxekezo stated that the Minister of Health appointed a panel of specialists to sit on an independent committee at the national Department of Health to investigate all adverse events following immunisation.

“The National Immunization Safety Expert Committee (NISEC) investigates all cases including deaths for a causal relationship with the vaccine to determine whether the vaccine indeed caused the death of patients.”

She indicated that the autopsy report was not currently available.

“It has been sent to the requesting doctor at RMSH. The cause of death will be divulged to the family as soon as the NISEC has concluded the investigation.”

She explained that side effects and adverse events as well as unwanted and unwarranted reactions could happen after the administration of any vaccine or medication.

“It can range from severe/serious (death or disability) or mild and moderate which can be managed at local levels.

“Death is an unfortunate event that can happen after the administration of any medication/vaccine which cannot be attributed to vaccines without intensive investigation.”

Mxekezo indicated that allergic reactions were unpredictable and could happen at any time.

“Allergy tests are not typically done before vaccines or any other medicine are given in any facility. A medical history is obtained from parents.”

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