Tuesday, December 6 2016

VietNamNews

Baby vaccinations remain a cause for concern

Update: November, 10/2015 - 09:26
A baby receives vaccine at medical clinic. Parents are concerned about post-vaccine reactions after the recent death of babies after receiving Quinvaxem vaccine, although the Health Ministry has repeatedly confirmed the safety of the vaccine.— Photo dantri.com.vn

HA NOI (VNS) — Parents are concerned about post-vaccine reactions after the recent death of babies after receiving Quinvaxem vaccine, although the Health Ministry has repeatedly confirmed the safety of the vaccine.

Quinvaxem vaccine (five in one) is currently used for free in the expanded vaccination programme and is a combination of vaccines to prevent five diseases in one shot, including diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B, pneumonia and meningitis caused by Haemophilus influenza type B bacteria. The vaccine, provided by the United Nations Children's Fund, is manufactured in South Korea and certified by the World Health Organisation.

Some 3.5 million doses of Quinvaxem have been used since early 2015, with eight babies dying after vaccination.

Surveys in Viet Nam and across the world showed that in most cases, the deaths of babies were caused by an on-going disease at the time of the vaccination or for an unknown reason, said the Ministry of Health's Preventive Medicine Department Head, Tran Dac Phu.

"There is no scientific evidence that shows we should replace the current vaccine with another," said Phu.

He also said that even if there were deaths caused by the vaccine but the mortality rate was below the warning rate, the vaccine should still be used.

The vaccines are used in 90 countries with over 400 million doses used safely.

Phu said, therefore, families should take children to get Quinvaxem vaccine in the expanded programme for immunisation without any worry.

All kinds of vaccines had side-effects, added Phu.

Like other vaccines, the Quinvaxem also had some side effects, such as fever, pain and swelling at the injection site. Severe reactions, such as anaphylactic shock, after receiving vaccination were rare, he said.

Due to a shortage of paid vaccinations like six-in-one (Infranrix hexa) vaccine or five-in-one (Pentaxim), many mothers have recently been willing to wait and defer vaccination for their children.

Currently, the six-in-one vaccines are scarce and the shortage should last until next year. The reason is manufacturers are changing locations and modifying their production lines.

"I am really worried about the current vaccine, but I don't know what to do. I still want to wait for six-in-one or five-in-one vaccines which are manufactured in Belgium and France," said Phan Quynh Lien, a mother of a nine-month baby, in Thanh Xuan District.

Lien said that some mothers in the office also stopped using Quinvaxem vaccine although they have waited for a long time to have relevant vaccines.

Immunisation tours

A further safety plan which is emerging in the social network community is vaccination in Singapore.

On a personal Facebook page with the nickname Linh Doll, a Vietnamese person who has lived in Singapore for over ten years, recently introduced "Singapore Immunisation Tour" which is organised by herself and her family.

She shared that she created a immunisation tour to help families who want to have a safe vaccination in Singapore. Moreover, she said she used to help some of her friends in treatment and getting vaccinations here so she has experiences in working with hospitals.

Immunisation tour includes consultancy in Viet Nam, interpreter in Singapore, records for the baby, booked work schedules with hospitals, airport transfers, accommodation and travel.

Under Linh's tour, parents who want their children to get a vaccination in Singapore, only need to contact her, everything is ready in Singapore.

Simultaneously with this information, another Facebook page named Ngoc Anh also provides information about "Immunisations in Singapore".

She shared her experience in taking her child to go to Singapore for a vaccination including a list of necessary expenses to help mothers choose.

Ngoc Anh also gave out the list of hospitals in Singapore and offered prices for each injection such as a six-in-one dose at a price of VND1.9 million (US$84) plus examination.

As soon as the information was posted, hundreds of mothers asked about the price of services, tour prices, and nearly 10,000 people have shared this information.

It is estimated that the number of families who take their children to inject in Singapore will increase.

The recent price for a five-in-one vaccine is over VND600,000 ($27), and six-in-one is nearly VND1 million ($45).

Ngoc Anh offered some vaccination packs such as an all-in price of under VND10 million ($450) for one day in Singapore, under VND15 million ($660) for two days.

Tran To Mai, a mother of a child who is waiting for the six-in-one vaccine, said, "l will take my son to inject in Singapore although I'm not rich. I cannot wait for paid vaccines in Viet Nam anymore and cannot use Quinvaxem also."

"Nothing is more important than my child's health."

However, not many families can afford the price of a vaccination abroad.

"I heard the information already and I think it's good if you can afford it. I also want to but it's out of my hands," Nguyen Thu Phuong, a mother in Hoang Mai district said.

Ngo Thi Hoang Lan, a health centre's health worker in Thanh Xuan Distric said that all information which was shared in a social network was private information and no one could ensure that a vaccination in Singapore was safer than Viet Nam because most vaccines had side effects at the injection site.

Lan also said that the number of babies who went to a health centre to get Quinvaxem vaccine had reduced after hearing bad news about the reaction.

Dr Nguyen Trong An, deputy head of centre for training research and community development, said that there needed to be more specific evidence to convince people and make them believe after the deaths of babies.

If vaccinations were to stop, epidemics would spread, An said.

Viet Nam had recently been certified by WHO as eligible for exporting vaccines and the process of vaccination was strictly regulated by the Ministry of Health.

Thus, people should trust the quality of the vaccines and take their children for Quinvaxem vaccine and other vaccines under the expanded programme for immunisation at the right time instead of waiting for paid vaccinations, Phu said.

Replacing the current vaccine did not mean that deaths would not happen, he added. — VNS

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