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Booster shot against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and polio at 4-6 years imperative: seminar

Update: September, 29/2021 - 10:52


The Vietnam Association of Preventive Medicine on September 28 organised an online seminar titled ‘Booster vaccination against diphtheria – tetanus – pertussis – polio (DTaP – IPV): An essential step to protect 4-6-year-old children’. Photo Courtesy of Sanofi-Aventis Vietnam

HCM CITY— Parents should not fail to provide their children with a diphtheria - pertussis - tetanus - polio booster shot amid the COVID-19 scramble, according to the Vietnam Association of Preventive Medicine.

Diseases such as diphtheria and pertussis have broken out again in the last few years, and so parents should provide the booster shot for children between the ages of four and six, it said.

“[It] not only protects the vaccinated children but also helps unvaccinated younger children in the family, especially those aged 0-6 months who have not been fully immunized, avoid infection,” Dr Phạm Quang Thái, deputy dean of the department of infectious diseases control at the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, told an online seminar on September 28.

"Amid the COVID outbreak, they need to make an appointment in advance so as not to wait for long and follow the Ministry of Health’s 5K message," he said.

Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), and polio are serious acute contagious diseases.

Diphtheria spreads from person to person, usually through the respiratory tract, and the symptom is a “pseudomembrane,” a grey coating in the throat or nose.

Respiratory diphtheria causes airway blockage, damage to the heart muscle or kidney failure, and children can die in six to 10 days.

Tetanus is contracted through broken skin from contaminated objects, and symptoms include muscle stiffness all over body, with rigid respiratory muscles causing breathing difficulty, and it still causes a high mortality rate in many places in the world.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection which causes rapid coughs, a bluish-purple hue to the skin and exhaustion, and is extremely dangerous for children under two years of age.

Polio can cause muscle paralysis, including in the respiratory muscles, and can lead to death or severe sequelae in children.

Thanks to the effectiveness of the country’s vaccination programme through both public and private vaccination networks, the percentage of children under two getting immunised against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio is high.

But many recent studies show that the protective effects are not lasting, and wears off gradually.

Between the ages of four and six, the number of antibodies created through the basic doses in the first two years lessens significantly.

“Despite being fully vaccinated with three doses before the age of 12 months and another one before two years, children remain at risk when they grow up and are exposed to infectious sources,” Thái said.

“Children aged four to six often have increased exposure to the external environment, such as at schools. The risk of diphtheria - pertussis - tetanus - polio infection increases if the child does not have enough antibodies.  

The rate of booster vaccination in Vietnam is still relatively low.

Many parents do not realise the importance of booster shots.

A recent survey of more than 900 parents in Việt Nam found that only 24.2 per cent of parents had their children vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and polio at the age of four to six.

The seminar was organised by the association and sponsored by Sanofi-Aventis Vietnam. VNS

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