Vietnam health agency admits to using expired vaccine

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Vietnam's national epidemiology institute has admitted that it gave children in Hanoi expired vaccines, but stressed that the injections were still safe and effective.

A report on VnExpress Friday quoted Nguyen Tran Hien, chief of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, as saying that two health workers have been disciplined for not checking the vaccines' expiry dates before use as regulated.

The workers will be suspended from vaccination jobs and be retrained, he said.

The Tetraxim vaccine batch in question a combination against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and poliomyelitis had two expiry date labels. One was printed by the Ministry of Health and was set for February 1, 2012, while the other by the French producer said the expiry date was February 2012, Hien said.

According to the producer, the vaccine is still effective and safe anytime before February 29, he said.

The VnExpress report said the mistake was discovered by a mother after her child was injected with the vaccine on February 7. She claimed that the baby had a slight fever and pain in her legs the next day.

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However, Hien said symptoms like fever and swelling around the point of injection are normal reactions after vaccinations, adding that they will fade within 24 hours.

The five children who were given the expired vaccine between February 1 and 7 can take tests at the institute, and can be revaccinated if needed, according to the official.

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