Cervical cancer vaccine to be tested after Vietnam girl's death

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A batch of cervical cancer vaccine will have to be tested further to clarify its role in the death of a 17-year-old girl who died after getting a vaccination shot, Ho Chi Minh City health authorities said at a meeting on Friday.

The HCMC Department of Health made the announcement after no conclusion had been drawn about the death cause of Dang Kim Chi even though she died more than one month ago.

Chi was found dead on April 6, around seven and half hours after receiving the vaccine at the District 9 Preventive Health Center.

It was reported at the meeting that an autopsy found Chi died from "acute pulmonary edema" a condition in which fluid accumulates in the lungs.

Several drugs were found in her blood, urine and stomach fluid: paracetamol, which is often used for killing pain or controlling fever; propranolol, which is used to treat tremors, chest pain and high blood pressure; and adrenaline used for treating cardiac arrests.

The young woman showed no signs of diseases and there was no record of hereditary diseases in her family prior to her death, heard the meeting.

According to the HCMC Department of Health, other medicine vials that belonged to the same batch with the one Chi got need more "specialized tests."

Dr. Le Thanh Thy, director of the District 9 Preventive Health Center, said the Cervarix batch was produced by GlaxoSmithKline and had an expiry date in August 2015. The center bought the batch of 30 doses from Hoang Duc Company, and has so far used 28.

He said they have never recorded any negative reactions in patients after getting vaccinations from the suspicious batch.

It was reported at the meeting that Chi got her first cervarix medicine shot on March 6. The medicine came from another batch also produced by GSK and had the same expiration date.

One month later, on April 6, she got a second shot at 9 a.m.

At around 4.30 p.m. that day one of her neighbors came to her house for a visit after she complained of fatigue and sleepiness on the phone.

Chi did not answer, although the neighbor kept calling her. The neighbor then broke into her house and found her lying in the bathroom.

She was said to be "motionless" and did not respond when the neighbor shook her.

The young woman was rushed to a local hospital while her body turned blue, her heart stopped beating, and her breathing stopped too. She was pronounced dead on arrival.

Chi's death came amid scandals related to faulty vaccines that have plagued Vietnam since the beginning of this year.

Early last month, the Ministry of Health halted the use of Quinvaxem following the deaths of nine infants who died over six months after taking the vaccine. Many other babies between two and four months old, the age at which the vaccine is administered, developed complications. 

The vaccine used to immunize babies against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, and Hib (Haemophilus influenza type b) now is being checked by the World Health Organization.

Later that month, a health worker at a medical center in Tuy Hoa Town in the central province of Phu Yen was caught administering two boys expired vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella.

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