Authorities in the Central Highlands city of Da Lat, the capital of Lam Dong Province, are seeking Ministry of Health permission to suspend the use of Quinvaxem, a five-in-one vaccine produced in the Netherlands, following the death of a three-month-old boy caused by a shot last month.
According to municipal authorities, between 2012 and January this year, three local children died after receiving Quinvaxem shots, leading to a sharp decrease in the number of parents signing their children up for the shots last month.
In the latest incident, on January 14, Tran Le Nguyen was taken to a medical center in Da Lat’s Ward 7 for a Quinvaxem shot. He was in normal condition 30 minutes after the shot.
But he cried after going home and was taken back to the medical center for a check-up. As he had no particular symptoms, medical officers there said he could go home.
The following morning his family took him to the center once again as he refused to be breastfed and turned purple.
He was then transferred to Lam Dong General Hospital but his condition got worse.
The child died that afternoon.
Lam Dong authorities immediately suspended the use of the vaccine batch related to Nguyen’s death.
However, they did not confirm any links between Quinvaxem and his death, arguing that the boy died from hypersensitivity, which refers to undesirable reactions produced by the normal immune system.
On May 4 last year, the Ministry of Health announced the temporary suspension of Quinvaxem, a combination vaccine that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b infections.
The suspension follows an increase in the number of reports of adverse events following immunization (AEFI) with Quinvaxem and, in most instances, oral poliovirus vaccine, including the death of nine young infants between November 2012 and March 2013.
The World Health Organization was then invited by Vietnamese authorities to review the 43 serious AEFI cases that have been documented in the country since Quinvaxem was introduced in mid-2010.
After an investigation, it was found that the other serious AEFIs, including those which resulted in fatalities, reported in Vietnam were either coincidental health problems related in time but not related to the use of Quinvaxem.
In October, the Ministry of Health resumed the use of Quinvaxem. Since then, at least three infant deaths following the shots have been reported around the country.
Vietnam has been administering around 4.5 million Quinvaxem shots to 1.5 million children every year.
The liquid drug, pre-qualified by the WHO, has been distributed in Vietnam for free since June 2010 as part of a program run by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization through the nonprofit organization UNICEF.
Quinvaxem was introduced globally in 2006 by the Netherlands-based biopharmaceutical company Crucell. It has been pushed in low-income countries, as it costs around VND77,000 (nearly four US dollars) a dose, ten times cheaper than new alternatives produced in the US and Belgium.
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