|Vaccination against diphtheria is an effective way to prevent the disease. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — All children under seven years old in Việt Nam will be given free vaccinations against diphtheria, said Dương Thị Hồng, deputy director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, head of the division on the National Expanded Vaccination Programme.
The move came as HCM City, Đắk Nông and Kon Tum provinces have reported a number of patients diagnosed with diphtheria.
The Ministry of Health will coordinate with the Ministry of Education and Training to review the injection of vaccinations for diphtheria in six provinces and cities at high-risk, Hồng said.
It is necessary for children to obtain a document proving that they have been vaccinated as required by the expanded immunisation programme before enrolling in preschools. Otherwise, they have to go to local health stations to have sufficient shots, ensuring that they could be prevented from diseases.
In Việt Nam, children under two years old are given free five-in-one vaccine shot which include diphtheria. However, older children will be the most vulnerable group when the vaccination rate drops, experts said.
A vaccination programme against diphtheria and tetanus has recently been carried out but it has reached only children under seven years old in 30 vulnerable cities and provinces.
According to the Ministry of Health, at present, the diphtheria epidemic has not been excluded in the country, so people can be infected if they have not been fully vaccinated and exposed to pathogens.
Parents are urged to ensure their children have a total of four diphtheria vaccine shots taken at the proper times.
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.
Hồng 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.
Thanks to the implementation of national expanded programme on immunisation for children under one year of age, Việt Nam has basically controlled the diphtheria.
Việt Nam has begun deploying the repeated injection of diphtheria vaccines for children at 18 months of age since 2010. As a result, the country has recorded about 10 cases a year on average instead of hundreds of patients each year compared to the 1980s. — VNS