A one-year-old girl died in Cuba on Oct. 9, 2019 two days after receiving an MMR (mumps, measles, rubella) vaccination. Paloma Domínguez Caballero was administered the vaccine at a clinic near Havana on Oct. 7. Within two hours, the toddler began to have symptoms of severe adverse reactions.1 2
According to Paloma’s mother, “First we went to the same polyclinic because we only thought she had to be given something for the vomiting and we would return home. Before taking her, we waited for her to vomit on more than one occasion, because they had told me that this could happen. I only waited an hour before taking her to the doctor.”1
Mrs. Caballero and her husband took Paloma to the Luis Diaz Soto Hospital. They were concerned because, although their daughter had stopped vomiting, “her skin was getting very red.” Urine and blood tests done on the child ruled out dengue as a cause of her symptoms, but “her skin kept changing color and her legs start to swell,” Mrs. Caballero said.1 3
The Caballeros decided to take their daughter to another hospital, the Borrás Marfán Pediatric Hospital. The child was kept under observation overnight by hospital doctors. An article in OnCuba News quoted Mrs. Caballero as saying that throughout the night “the fever continued and the clinical picture worsened” and that at around 5:00 am on Oct. 9 “all the doctors met and decided to urgently take her to therapy.”1
Mrs. Caballero added:
She spent around three hours there with increasingly more diarrhea in a row, it was when then that I realized that her right arm, where she had been given the vaccine, was swelling at times. They told me to apply fomentations but it hurt her a lot because she complained. Her feet were increasingly more swollen, just like other parts of the body.1
Cuba’s Public Health Ministry confirmed that four other children who received the MMR vaccine at the same clinic at about the same time as Paloma also suffered severe reactions following vaccination. According to a statement released by the ministry, “The remaining four children remain hospitalized, one of them under intensive care but stable, and the others are progressing favorably.”2
The MMR vaccine used in Cuba is produced by Serum Institute of India. It is marketed and sold under the brand name Tresivac. The vaccine has been approved and certified by the World Health Organization (WHO). In May 2002, a measles vaccine made by Serum Institute caused severe adverse reactions in 42 children in Cuba. Three of those children died of toxic shock syndrome.2 4 5
On May 13, 2008, a 17-year-old boy died of septic shock in Ukraine eight hours after being vaccinated with Tresivac. Two days later, 60 people in eastern Ukraine were hospitalized after receiving the vaccine.4 6
1 OnCuba Staff. Baby girl dies in Cuba after vaccination; four other children were affected. OnCuba News Oct. 13, 2019.
2 Gámez Torres N, Pentón MJ. Child dies in Cuba after receiving vaccine made in India. It’s not the first time. Miami Herald Oct. 15, 2019.
3 Almaguer O. The Bridge Near Havana’s Naval Hospital is Still Broken. Havana Times Apr. 27, 2015.
4 14ymedio. Two Hypotheses About Baby’s Death in Cuba After an MMR Vaccination. Translating Cuba Oct. 16, 2019.
5 Tresivac. Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd.
6 MMR Vaccine in Ukraine (2008) – Death and 92 Hospitalizations. Vaccines.Me.