HA NOI (VNS) — The number of children receiving hepatitis B vaccine within a day of being born has fallen sharply, said professor Nguyen Tran Hien, director of the Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.
Hien warned that the low rate meant it would be difficult to control any outbreak of hepatitis B.
In the first six months of this year, only 20 per cent of new-borns in the country received the vaccine, whereas the rate in 2012 was 75 per cent and last year was 56 per cent.
Hien said that the rate of children receiving the vaccine fell sharply after three children in the central province of Quang Tri's Huong Hoa District died after receiving it last year.
The tragedy happened when a nurse at Huong Hoa District General Hospital was asked by a doctor to administer the vaccine to the babies last July.
When she went to collect the vaccine from the refrigerator, there was a power cut and she mistakenly picked up the wrong medicine, an anaesthetic called Esmeron.
The refrigerator was meant to be used solely to store the hepatitis B vaccine, but a doctor, Le Truong Son, used the refrigerator to store the anaesthetic without telling anyone.
When given in sufficient time, the vaccine can reduce transmission of the disease from mother to child by 85-90 per cent.
Hien said that giving new-borns hepatitis B vaccine was a global campaign. In Viet Nam, the work has been carried out for 30 years.
He said hepatitis B was a safe vaccine and was not contra-indicated for children born prematurely. The rate of accidents after injection is one or two cases per million doses. — VNS