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Vaccine prices increase in Viet Nam amid shortages

Update: September, 22/2015 - 10:40
A medical worker prepares to give vaccination to a child in Thuong Tien Commune, Kim Boi District, the northern province of Hoa Binh. Vaccine prices will increase by 5 to 10 per cent. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc

HA NOI (VNS) — A shortage of vaccines and changes in the foreign currency exchange rate have resulted in a price increase by 5 to 10 per cent for six vaccines since June, said Nguyen Nhat Cam, director of the Ha Noi Preventive Medicine Centre.

The price for typhoid vaccine is up to VND185,000 (US$8.4) a dose from VND135,000 ($6), and the five-in-one vaccine rose from VND630,000 ($28) to VND710,000 ($32).

Last Monday the centre's vaccination faculty announced it was out of numerous vaccines, including the five-in-one, which protects children from diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio and Haemophilus influenza type B; and the six-in-one, which also protects against Hepatitis B.

Cam said the centre hadn't imported batches of the six-in-one vaccine since early this year and five-in-one since last month.

Vaccine prices outside Viet Nam's national free immunisation programme were based on vaccine costs, preservation fees, taxes and injection fees, Cam said. Many parents refused to use domestically produced vaccines as they believed imported ones were safer, he added.

Dang Hong Thuy heads up the Hong Thuy Company, which specialises in importing vaccines. He said the Ministry of Health's Drug Administration approved the company's proposal to raise the vaccine price by 7 per cent due to increased transport fees.

Thuy said foreign manufacturers that supplied vaccines to Viet Nam have altered their pricing policies. They used to give Viet Nam a 10 per cent discount on many vaccines, and Hong Thuy Company included the reduction in their vaccine rates. But foreign manufacturers haven't applied this discount programme recently, as they haven't produced enough drugs to meet demand.

Thuy said the company planned to import 16,000 doses of five-in-one Petaxim vaccine this month. It would import 50,000 more doses by the end of this year.

Nguyen Thi Ha, who lives in HCM City's District 9, said she recently heard about a vaccine against Pneumococcus, and if her child needed the vaccine she would buy it, despite any price increases.

The rate of customers using imported vaccines in Viet Nam was increasing, Cam said. Two to three times more people were using imported vaccines against chicken pox than they were two years ago.

Warning system

A warning system for immunisation services has been implemented in 11 cities and provinces across the country, the Ministry of Health's Preventive Medicine Department said.

They include Ha Noi, HCM City, Can Tho, and Thua Thien-Hue, in addition to Thanh Hoa, Hai Phong, Khanh Hoa, and Dong Nai. The other cities with such a system are Kien Giang, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, and Da Nang.

Through the system, vaccine services units can show their actual situation with regard to the use of vaccines.

According to the department, the deployment of the system in the entire country will usher in efficiency in managing paid services unit and support in monitoring, managing and planning the use of vaccines.

Tran Dac Phu, director of the Preventive Medicine Department, said this system will also include information about responses and incidents related to immunisation in paid units in a timely manner.

In addition to ensuring a safe immunisation process, the paid units must supply sufficient vaccines and ensure that children have been vaccinated on schedule, he said.

He also added that action by medical teams to allergic reactions in patients after they are immunised should be improved.

Annually, there are more than 200,000 doses of vaccines offered for paid service units.

However, the extended shortage of vaccines from 2014 to date has led to increased risk of infections in children.

Nguyen Nhat Cam, director of the Ha Noi Preventive Medicine Department, said that there could be a shortage in paid vaccinations such as in the six-in-one or five-in-one categories in the next months. — VNS

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