|Health workers examines students in Đàk Nông Province for signs of diphtheria and provide immunisation shots for those unvaccinated after a few cases were reported in the Central Highlands province. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HCM CITY — The General Department of Preventive Medicine has urged parents to be sure their children have a total of four diptheria vaccine shots taken at the proper times.
HCM City and two Central Highlands provinces of Đắk Nông and Kon Tum have reported a number of patients discovered to have contracted diptheria.
The four shots, scheduled correctly, could prevent the disease. Early detection can be treated with antibiotics, according to the department.
The disease has appeared in remote areas where the vaccination coverage rate is low, the department said.
Dr Dương Thị Hồng, head of the division on the national expanded programme on immunization, told Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper that the nationwide rate should be more than 95 per cent to prevent an outbreak of the disease.
Hồng said that vaccinations stopped in the social distancing period. The rate of children under 18 months old with vaccines against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus this year has only reached 28.9 per cent.
Many people in remote areas, including ethnic minorities, have low awareness about vaccines, as well as travel difficulties.
In the 2018-2019 period, the five-in-one Quinvaxem combination vaccine was replaced with the ComBE Five vaccine against five common potentially fatal diseases affecting infants - diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type B.
Many people were worried about the new vaccine’s side effects so they were reluctant to take their children to health clinics.
On June 29, the Kon Tum Province's Department of Health reported that more than three patients tested positive for the bacteria causing this disease. There have been eight patients with diphtheria since the beginning of this year. They were treated at health centres in districts Đăk Tô and Sa Thầy.
Local health officials are working with local authorities to isolate and treat patients and take samples for testing among people who have had close contact with patients.
They have also provided vaccines for children in communes where patients live. Communication about the disease and preventive measures have been carried out as well.
Dr Văn Chinh Chiến, head of the Central Highlands Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, told Tuổi Trẻ that Đắk Nông Province had 12 patients with diphtheria, including one patient who died. The institute has taken 550 samples for testing and provided 10,000 doses of Td vaccines to the province.
The institute also sent two medical staff to the province's Centre for Diseases Prevention and Control to offer training in taking self-test samples with the PCR method.
The areas where patients live have a 48-52 per cent vaccination rate.
HCM City has reported one patient with diphtheria.
Health staff in Đắk Nông Province and HCM City have taken samples for test from people who have had close contact with patients. Patients have been isolated and treated at hospitals.
Last year, seven provinces and cities had a total of 50 patients diagnosed with diptheria. — VNS