Vietnam capable of ensuring adequate vaccines for immunisation

Friday, 2018-03-30 11:31:52
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The national expanded immunisation programme has helped prevent diseases for millions of children.
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NDO – Vietnam will use alternative vaccines in a replacement of the 5 in 1 Quinvaxem imported vaccine due to the halt in production from Korean manufacturer Berna Biotech Korea Corp, a senior official from the Ministry of Health (MoH) has affirmed.

Assoc. Prof., Dr. Tran Dac Phu, Head of the MoH’s Department of Preventive Medicine has granted Nhan Dan Online an interview regarding the Quinvaxem vaccine conversion and the introduction of new vaccines into the expanded immunisation programme for 2018. He stated that the health sector is capable of ensuring adequate vaccinations for children, as well as producing its own supply of new vaccines to reduce imports.

Currently, in Vietnam, there are more than 30 vaccines and several are used in extended vaccinations, such as the 5 in 1 Quinvaxem and vaccines against tuberculosis, diphtheria, measles, pertussis, tetanus, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B, meningitis, rubella, and rota. The 5 in 1 Quinvaxem vaccine has been used since 2010, and 42 million doses have been injected during the national expanded immunisation programme. Over the past seven years, Quinvaxem have made great strides, contributing significantly to the prevention and control of the most common children’s infectious diseases, including diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B, and pneumonia/meningitis caused by Hib bacteria.

Pointing to the impressive statistics for immunisation in 2017, Dr. Phu informed that vaccination coverage nationwide last year reached over 95%. 2017 is the 18th year in a row that Vietnam successfully prevented any new case of polio and also the 12th consecutive year of maintaining zero infections of neonatal tetanus. Measles and rubella are still controlled with no large-scale outbreaks. At the same time, it was also the first year that the expanded immunisation programme has covered 95% of children under one year of age.

The Korean manufacturer has announced it is ceasing production of Quinvaxem, so Vietnam and other countries using this 5 in 1 vaccine must convert to alternatives. The replacement is normal, Dr. Phu said, adding that the MoH had developed a roadmap to select the vaccines with similarities to Quinvaxem in ingredients and effectivity as a suitable replacement. The remaining nationwide stockpile of Quinvaxem vaccine is enough to satisfy demand until the end of next May.

"We will select the most widely used vaccines in the world for import to Vietnam and will carry out small-scale injections in four provinces first. From next June, the programme will be carried out on a national scale. Currently, the MoH has not finalised the vaccine yet," Dr. Phu informed.

Dr. Tran Dac Phu, Head of the MoH’s Department of Preventive Medicine, stated that the health sector is capable of ensuring adequate vaccinations for children, as well as producing new vaccines to reduce imports.

In order to ensure that children are vaccinated on a continuous basis with sufficient vaccines, the senior health official suggested that parents should not hesitate in getting their children injected with the new 5 in 1 vaccine. In particular, he advised people not to avoid the injection for 5 in 1 vaccine to avoid the high threat of diseases like diphtheria and pertussis.

Regarding the MoH’s plan to replace several vaccines with domestically produced alternatives this year, in addition to the 5 in 1 vaccine conversion, the ministry will put into use MR 2 in 1 - a measles-rubella vaccine produced by the Centre for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals on a national scale for children aged 18 months from next month. This will reduce the costs of importing the foreign made MR vaccine.

In addition, to continue promoting achievements in anti-poliomyelitis, along with the continuation of letting children from two to four months of age use three doses of the routine oral bOPV vaccine, the MoH will add the injected IPV vaccination for 5-month-olds to the expanded vaccination programme from August this year.

Investment in vaccine production is necessary because of the large population in Vietnam, Dr. Phu said, adding that self-produced supplies would ensure vaccine security and help the domestic health sector to reduce dependence on imported vaccines. Currently, Vietnam has produced more than ten types of vaccines, including those against tuberculosis, measles, rubella, rota, cholera, typhoid, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and combined measles-rubella. The Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals in Nha Trang is developing influenza and 5 in 1 vaccines.

“We are going to produce multi-dose vaccines to help children avoid getting multiple injections. However, we are still unable to produce the 5 in 1 vaccine yet, so, in future, we will have to continue to improve vaccine technologies to produce "made in Vietnam" vaccines,” Dr. Phu stressed.