Many district preventive health centres and ward and commune health stations in HCM City have run out of Quinvaxem vaccine for infants against five common, potentially fatal diseases.
It was to have been replaced by a new Indian vaccine, ComBE Five, at the beginning of this month, but the replacement has yet to be delivered to the centres, according to the city’s Department of Health.
The Drug Administration of Viet Nam said the new vaccine is undergoing quality checks and is expected to be delivered next week.
The vaccines are given to infants aged two to four months against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, and haemophilus influenza type B.
The Vietnam News Agency quoted Dinh Thi Lien, deputy head of the Binh Trung Tay Ward Health Station in District 2, as saying her facility only had three doses of the Korean vaccine left.
On September 10 Phan Thi Ngoc, whose daughter needs to get one more shot of Quinvaxem at the Binh Trung Tay Ward Health Station, was worried about going home without getting the shot.
Dr Lai Phuoc Hoa, head of the Binh Chanh District Health Centre, said the remaining doses can only meet half of the demand, but reassured parents that children would not be affected by getting the shot a month late.
The Department of Health said parents should provide accurate contact details so that health staff at the centres can call back when ComBE Five is available.
Meanwhile, they should take precautionary measures such as washing hands frequently and avoiding contacting with infected people, it said.
Parents who can afford it should take their children to get Pentaxim and Infanrix Hexa shots though these are not provided free by the Government, it said.
Dr Truong Huu Khanh of the infectious and neurological diseases department at the city Children Hospital No 1, said ComBE Five is as safe as Quinvaxem.
Assoc Prof Dr Tran Dac Phu, head of the Ministry of Health’s Preventive Medicine Department, told Viet Nam News that Berna Biotech Company no longer produces Quinvaxem, which has been provided under the national immunisation programme since 2010.
The ministry decided to replace it with ComBE Five, which is of comparable quality and has the same ingredients as the Korean vaccine, including cellular components of whooping cough, he said.
Before the Government decided to use ComBE Five nation-wide, it piloted the vaccine in the four provinces of Ha Nam, Binh Dinh, Kon Tum, and Dong Thap.
Dang Duc Anh, head of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said the vaccine has been tested for efficiency by the World Health Organisation and is used in 43 countries around the world, with more than 400 million shots being given so far.