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Health ministry advises public against unauthorised vaccines

Update: December, 22/2015 - 09:45
A baby receives Quinvaxem vaccine at a communal health clinic in Bac Giang Province. The Ministry of Health yesterday issued a public warning regarding the so-called imported vaccine, whose origin and quality it was not able to verify. — VNS/Photo Thanh Hai

HA NOI (VNS) — The Ministry of Health yesterday issued a public warning regarding the so-called imported vaccine, whose origin and quality it was not able to verify.

The ministry advised the public that the vaccine must be preserved and administered following strictly regulated standards. Therefore, parents were asked to not vaccinate their children with the unauthorised vaccine, which was imported through various unofficial channels.

Head of the ministry's Department of Preventative Medicine Tran Dac Phu said the ministry forbids the sales of the unauthorised vaccine and parents who purchased and used it put their children at greater risk of medical complications.

In recent months, numerous individuals and companies already started to advertise their vaccine to parents, who are unwilling to participate in the Expanded Programme on Immunisation and prefer to take their children to private clinics or even fly them outside the country to be vaccinated.

The unwillingness came from concerns 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. Last week, the health department in Dak Nong Province announced the cause of death of a three-month old baby who received a dose of Quinvaxem in September. According to the department's official conclusion, the baby died due to shock from the side-effects of the vaccine.

Refusing free Quinvaxem vaccine, many mothers have recently been willing to wait for paid vaccines like six-in-one (Infranrix hexa) vaccine or five-in-one (Pentaxim), and defer vaccination for their children.

The shortage of paid vaccine in domestic market lead to emerging service called Singapore vaccination tour.

Last week, a report of the Centre for Biological Products and Vaccine Production Research under the Ministry of Health said that at least 15,000 doses of Pentaxim, the five-in-one vaccine, would be available by the end of this month in the North after being in short supply for a long time.

The ministry's Drug Administration also said that next year Viet Nam would have 49,000 doses of six-in-one vaccine, Infranrix hexa vaccine to guard against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and hepatitis B, in addition to polio and Haemophilus influenza type B.

This figure shows that next year Viet Nam will have a larger quantity of the vaccine for immunisation than the 11,000 doses it had this year.

Phu noted that the best time for children to be vaccinated is when they are of 2, 3 or 4 months old, when the vaccine can produce immunity 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the time.

He urged parents to bring their children to official vaccination centres and receive medical consultations before the vaccination. Phu said parents must not, in any case, skip or delay the vaccination, which may in turn put the children and the whole society in danger of epidemic diseases.

The National Vaccination Programme vaccinates up to 1.3 million children across the country. The programme is aimed at preventing some 11 dangerous diseases and was estimated to save more than 43,000 children every year. — VNS

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