A four-month-old girl died Tuesday two days after receiving a Quinvaxem shot in the northern province of Hai Duong, the second death due to anaphylactic shock from the free vaccine in Vietnam in a week.
The child received the 5-in-1 shot at a commune medical station on the morning of October 25.
She started to vomit the next morning and her buttocks developed purple patches that afternoon, according to local medical officials.
The family took her to a hospital soon after that, but she died on October 27 of anaphylactic shock. The same reason was blamed for the death of a three-month-old boy in the central province of Nghe An, who died just minutes after vaccination on October 20.
For both it was the second shot of Quinvaxem, and they were fine the first time.
Three shots are given to infants at monthly intervals and for free under a national program to protect against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenza type B.
Vietnam has administered more than 25 million shots of Quinvaxem since June 2010. Photo credit: Dan Tri.
Quinvaxem is a WHO prequalified drug distributed by Berna Biotech Korea Corp., and is much cheaper than alternatives.
Since June 2010 more than 25 million shots have been administered, and immunization officials said it has “significantly reduced” the numbers of children infected with dangerous diseases.
But after nine infants died between November 2012 and March 2013, the health ministry suspended the vaccine in May that year.
But after an investigation found that the deaths were not related to the vaccine, its use resumed in October the same year.
Another investigation by the World Health Organization also suggested the vaccine was safe. It found nine complication cases related to the vaccine between 2010 and April 2013 in which all the babies survived, and considered that number very small out of 14 million shots given during the period.
The organization said the accepted rate of complications related to the vaccine is 20 per million shots.
Yet an independent expert told news website Dan Tri anonymously that 23 have died due to causes related to the vaccine since it was reintroduced, including the two latest cases.
Dang Duc Anh, head of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, told the news site that the ministry has considered alternative measures, but is constrained by both supply and budget.
Quinvaxem uses whole-cell preparations in its whooping cough component while more expensive alternatives, like Pentaxim made by French company Sanofi Pasteur, use purified antigens which are considered safer.
Anh said producers of vaccines with purified agents cannot provide enough for Vietnam’s needs yet.