Vietnam clinic takes blame for administering expired shots

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Expired vaccine from the two bottles were given to two brothers in Phu Yen Province May 20. Photo by Duc Huy

A medical center in the central province of Phu Yen has admitted that "loose management" allowed two boys be injected with expired vaccinations on May 20.

Phan Van Ngoc, father of the boys who are 13 and 16 years old, complained to the medical center of Tuy Hoa Town immediately upon reading the labels of the emptied bottles which indicated the vaccinations had expired last month.

Ngoc, 42, said he paid VND240,000 (US$11.5) for the shots to immunize the boys from measles, mumps and rubella.

Phan Dinh, deputy director of the center, admitted it was their fault, as the person administering the shot did not check the bottles first.

"We did not check the batch properly to discover that some were past their expiry date," Dinh said.

Documents at the center showed that the batch of 50 shots was imported by the Minh Duc Company in Hanoi. It was brought to the center on April 15 and documents showed its expiry date as the end of June.

A total of 45 shots from the batch had been administered previously without complaints. It is unclear whether any of them may have been expired although the center officials said they were not.

The latest two shots were administered by Nguyen Thi Khanh, deputy head of the HIV/AIDS control department at the center.

Doan Hung Anh, another deputy director of the center, said it was wrong for the center to have received pharmaceutical products with such fast-approaching expiration dates.

Anh said any arrivals of products due to expire in less than three months require special attention, blaming the storage manager Tran Thi Le Trinh for not submitting a report.

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Vietnam's Health Ministry does not allow the use of expired vaccines, but doctors said they lack instructions on what to do if an expired shot is mistakenly administered. The boys have not developed any complications so far.

Doctors said the boys should be safe, as any complications resulting from the expired shot would have surfaced immediately. They will be tested in a month to see if the vaccination was effective.

The Phu Yen Health Department is investigating further.

Another vaccine scandal in Hanoi cost a nurse her job for failing to give a four-month-old baby his full vaccination dose.

The Hanoi government on May 14 approved the health department's proposal to fire Bui Thi Phuong Hoa, a nurse at Hanoi Preventive Health Center one of the city's major vaccination hubs.

The baby's father caught Hoa's mistake, as the nurse did not put the bottle into the garbage bin. The father noticed it was not empty and said he believed the nurse might have done it purposely in order to use the rest on another baby.

The pentavalent shot cost VND1.2 million (US$57), but since the baby did not receive the full dose, doctors say he is not safe from the diseases the shot is supposed to prevent.

Hanoi authorities have ordered an investigation into the center to determine if any of its senior officials were involved. 

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