Vietnam cities run out of children's vaccines

By Thanh Tung - Lien Chau, Thanh Nien News

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A child being vaccinated in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by Thanh Tung

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are running out of many essential vaccines for children.
The vaccination center at the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Hanoi Wednesday informed parents that it is out of vaccines for seasonal flu.
An employee said the center, just like the entire city, has also run out of the five-in-one Pentaxim vaccine made in France that protects children against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, polio and Haemophilus influenza type B (HiB), and the six-in-one Infanrix that protects against the five plus hepatitis B.
Infanrix and Pentaxim use purified pertussis antigens and are thus safer and see greater demand than for the 5-in-1 Dutch Quinvaxem which has scared off parents after possibly causing 15 deaths since late 2012.
Quinvaxem is cheaper and is given for free to infants in Vietnam.
The center ran out of chickenpox vaccines late last year.
They are administered to children in two doses, one at age one and the second one to three months later.
Dr Truong Huu Khanh, head of the infection department at Ho Chi Minh City’s leading pediatrics facility, Children’s Hospital No.1, said it has not been in stock for a long time.
“I do not know when we will have it again, and the disease season is coming.”
Many parents bringing their children to the HCMC Preventive Health Department for the six-in-one vaccine last weekend also went back disappointed.
An official from the Ministry of Health's Pharmaceutical Management Department  said it has placed an urgent order for 77,600 chickenpox vaccines.
The department did not provide a reason for the shortage or say when the vaccines would be available again.
An unidentified HCMC doctor said the health authorities failed to coordinate well with drug companies that supply vaccines.
He also said they should educate people to vaccinate their children regularly instead of rushing for shots when outbreaks occur.
Dr Nguyen Tri Dung, director of the city's Preventive Health Department, said measles vaccines are available.
There was a severe measles outbreak in late January which killed six children in around 10 days, sparking off a rush for  vaccination.
Health experts said demand for the vaccine had earlier dropped significantly, partly due to the Quinvaxem scare.

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