Illustrative image (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – A representative of the Ministry of Health confirmed that Quinvaxem vaccine will continue to be used in the national immunisation programme when responding to queries on the recent death of babies after being vaccinated.

Surveys in Vietnam and across the world showed that in most cases, the deaths of babies were caused by an on-going disease at the time of vaccination or for an unknown reason, said the Ministry of Health's Preventive Medicine Department Head, Tran Dac Phu.

Phu also said that even if there were deaths caused by the vaccine, the mortality rate was still below the warning rate and the vaccine should still be used.

Some 3.5 million doses Quinvaxem have been used since early 2015, with eight babies dying after vaccination.

The severe reaction rate after vaccination was 0.69 in every one million doses and the mortality rate was 0.17 in every one million doses in Vietnam, according to the Head of Central Epidemic Hygiene Institute, Nguyen Tran Hien.

Parents might be concerned about post-vaccination reactions but they should not stop vaccinating their kids, said the Head of Central Epidemic Hygiene Institute, Dang Duc Anh.

The best time for kids to absorb antibodies was when they were from two to four month old, said Anh.

If vaccinations were to stop, epidemics would spread, said Phu.

All kinds of vaccines including hepatitis B vaccines, BCG have side-effects, added Phu.

Alternatives
"To replace Quinvaxem scientific evidence and the recommendations of WHO and Vietnamese experts are needed to ensure the alternative is safe and effective," said Phu.

The Health Ministry used three criteria to decide which vaccine to use including safety, immunisation and cost.

"Replacing the current vaccine does not mean that deaths would not happen", said Phu.

Quinvaxem is a whole cell vaccine so reactions including fever, swell, pain and bruises occur more frequently after being vaccinated with Quinvaxem rather than after being vaccinated with the acellular vaccine.

The severe reaction rate and mortality rate in these two vaccines is equal, according to the WHO.

A Quinvaxem vaccine dose costs 77,000 VND (3.4 USD) while other 5-in-1 vaccines with acellular pertussis components cost up to 550,000 VND (24 USD) according to experts in a recent health ministry meeting.

There are 100,000 to 200,000 acellular vaccine doses used every year in Vietnam while the number of Quinvaxem whole cell vaccine is more than five million doses per year.

There was a lack of Pentaxem (5 in 1) and Infanrix hexa (6 in 1) vaccines this year, said Phu.

The number of deaths after being vaccinated with Quinvaxem was higher than in other vaccines over the last ten years of 2015 in Vietnam, according to statistics of health ministry.-VNA