TOKYO, March 6 (UPI) -- Japan's Health Ministry says it has suspended use of two vaccines after four children died after receiving them, Kyodo News reported.
Sources told the Japanese news agency the ministry decided Friday to stop administering the Hib vaccine to prevent bacterial meningitis and a vaccine to protect against streptococcus pneumoniae.
So far, no direct causal relationship has been established between the vaccines and the children's deaths, but the ministry intends to convene an expert panel in the coming days to look into the issue, the sources said.
The four fatalities were a 3-month-old girl in Kawasaki who died Feb. 20, a 2-year-old boy in Takarazuka who died Tuesday, a 1-year-old girl in Nishinomiya who died Wednesday and a 6-month-old girl in Kyoto City who died Friday.
Some of the children had underlying illnesses and others did not.
Kyodo said all four children received a vaccine against streptococcus pneumoniae manufactured by Pfizer Inc., based in New York, and all but the girl in Nishinomiya received ActHIB, made by Sanofi Pasteur Inc., based in Lyon, France.
Except for the boy in Takarazuka, all also received a mixed vaccine against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus the same day they received other vaccines.
Millions of doses of the vaccines have been administered in Japan in recent years.