|The shortage is not new, it has already been going on for several months in Ha Noi. — Photo anninhthudo
HA NOI (VNS) — A shortage of paid vaccinations – foreign-produced vaccines that must be paid for - will continue this year, says an official from the Ministry of Health.
Tran Dac Phu, Director of the Ministry of Health's Preventive Medicine Department, admitted that the supply of paid vaccination would again be short this year.
He explained that foreign producers of the highly sought-after vaccines, believed to be of higher quality and safer than government ones which caused several incidents of illness last year, cannot raise their output to meet the demand.
It is reported that only 30,000 doses of 6-in-1 vaccine, which is a combination of six different vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio and Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) will be available this year.
While parents wait in long queues to pay for foreign-produced vaccinations, Ministry of Heath officials are having trouble encouraging people to take the government's free vaccination whose supply is sufficient to meet demand.
The shortage is not new, it has already been going on for several months in Ha Noi.
A staff member at one of the Vaccine and Biological Production No.1 company's vaccination centres said they currently can only provide 5-in-1 vaccinations, which lack the hep B vaccination. They don't know when the 6-in-1 vaccines will be available again.
Before the Lunar New Year, parents had to book vaccination visits a month ahead to receive the 5-in-1 vaccination. The long wait continues for many.
Mai Huong, mother of a 6-month-old in Ha Noi, said she had taken her baby to the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology's vaccination centre several times but was told that they had run out of vaccines.
At last, she brought her baby to get a free vaccination shot from a center supplied by the Ministry of Health's Expanded Programme for Immunisation (EPI).
The shortage and the willingness to wait for vaccinations may again be showing its toll. A number of measles and whooping cough infections have appeared at hospitals in Ha Noi, Director Phu said.
Some of the infection cases involved babies aged from 2 to 3 month or 7 to 9 month – the recommended time period for them to receive their first doses of the vaccines.
Getting babies vaccinated as soon as possible is important, but many parents are willing to wait for paid vaccination despite the ongoing shortages and the availability of government provided vaccinations,
The Ministry of Health has requested that companies who are in charge of importing vaccinations, submit their 2015-2016 plans so that the ministry can better regulate their distribution and inform the public, Phu told Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper.
In the meantime, he added that all vaccination centre still need to be inspected and the agency needs to better promote the EPI with parents across the country.
Hospital reports from last year showed that many of the children admitted for preventable diseases had not received vaccinations because the parents were waiting foreign-supplied vaccines. — VNS