A child is vaccinated at a vaccination service centre in HCM City. VNS Photo Gia Lộc
HCM CITY— The HCM City Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has instructed district health officials to either send messages or call parents of children born between January and September in 2019 to remind them about vaccination schedules this year.
The immunization coverage rate among children in the city’s national expanded programme on immunization in the first six months of the year was only 54.5 per cent.
The immunization coverage was lower than the centre’s goal of 71.3 per cent, Dr Lê Hồng Nga, head of the centre’s infectious diseases control division said at a conference reviewing the programme.
The expanded programme on immunization has been carried out nationwide since 1985. It provides free vaccines against diseases including hepatitis B, tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping-cough, tetanus, polio, Haemophilus influenza type b, measles, Japanese encephalitis, and Rubella to children under 5 years old.
In HCM City, the rate of children vaccinated against diphtheria in the first half of the year was 88 per cent, while the goal was 95 per cent, Nga said.
According to the centre, a diphtheria vaccine does not ensure permanent immunity, so a booster injection for children and adults is compulsory to prevent the spread of the disease in the community.
Children as well as adults can contract diphtheria, the centre said, adding that infections have occurred in the Central Highlands provinces in the last several months.
The national immunization programme has enough free vaccines, so parents should feel secure in bringing their children to district health centres for vaccinations as required by Ministry of Health regulations.
According to Nga, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents have been reluctant to bring their children to health facilities for vaccinations. In March and April, the city stopped the vaccination service because of the COVID crisis.
She suggested that health officials visit houses of parents to remind them about vaccination schedules.
The centre has an application that can be used to make appointments at 24 health centres in districts and hospitals. This helps reduce overcrowding and waiting time for parents and children.
To reach a 95 per cent rate of children getting a diptheria vaccination, the centre plans to compile a list of children who need to be contacted. VNS