|The Viet Nam Drug Administration under the Ministry of Health last Saturday announced that it was suspending temporarily the use of "Quinvaxem," the five-in-one vaccine, for safety reasons.— VNS/ Photo/phunutoday
HCM CITY (VNS)— The Viet Nam Drug Administration under the Ministry of Health last Saturday announced that it was suspending temporarily the use of "Quinvaxem," the five-in-one vaccine, for safety reasons.
The announcement follows previous assertions by authorities that the vaccine was safe, despite nine fatalities recorded since last November.
All victims suffered from adverse reactions including fever, vomiting and the appearance of bruise marks all over their bodies after Quinvaxem was administered. Dozens of babies throughout the country also experienced serious allergies to the vaccine.
Dr Trinh Quan Huan, former Deputy Minister of Health, told the Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper that Quinvaxem was a vaccine that had evoked adverse reactions from a high number of babies. Of 42 batches of the imported vaccine, more than 20 caused allergies among babies in different parts of the country.
Since Quinvaxem contains whole-cell inactive pertusis bacteria, it causes allergies easily, Huan said.
Dr Nguyen Tran Hien, head of the National Immunisation Expansion Programme, said that the rate of babies reacting to Quinvaxem vaccine in Viet Nam was 0.69 per one million doses and the fatality rate was 0.17 per one million doses.
Late last year, the ministry conducted inspections on the safety of Quinvaxem and concluded that there were no problems with the vaccine's quality, distribution, preservation or administration.
The vaccine continued to be used in the country until the ban announced last Saturday.
|Quinvaxem.— Photo laodong
Nguyen Van Binh, head of the Preventive Medicine Department, said that the vaccine, which had been administered under the National Immunisation Expansion Programme to protect babies less than a year old against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenza type B (Hib), is produced by Berna Biotech Korea Corporation.
Quinvaxem has been offered at no cost to recipients since June 2010 with funding from the GAVI alliance, a public-private partnership focused on saving children's lives and protecting people's health by increasing access to immunisation in poor countries, he said.
The vaccine has been advised for babies between two and four months old in 90 countries by the World Health Organisation, he said. However, South Korea, where the vaccine is produced, has not used it, he added.
Each year, nearly 4.5 million doses of Quinvaxem vaccine were administered in Viet Nam, he said.
Nearly 13 million doses of Quinvaxem were imported over the last two years and more than 12 million administered, Binh said.
After the announcement of the temporary ban, the Health Ministry is yet to provide any guidance on using alternatives to Quinvaxem. — VNS