Vietnam is now able to produce 10 out of the 11 vaccines used in the expanded immunisation programme for children, said Health Deputy Minister Nguyen Thanh Long on December 14.

In the last 25 years, Vietnam has built a widespread vaccination network from central to grassroots levels with 90 percent of children aged under 12-months inoculated.

The successful implementation has seen fatalities of children under 5-years-old fall considerably. Vietnam eradicated polio and tetanus in 2000 and 2005, respectively. And the country is moving towards wiping out measles.

Since 2006, there have been no whooping cough fatalities, and all health staff hold qualifications in vaccination safety.

However, the programme still faces challenges, including a shortage of medical staff majoring in immunisation in the grassroots level, inadequate vaccine supply in some localities, reduced funds and declining international aid, as well as poor public awareness of the importance of vaccination.

Nguyen Tran Hien, Director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said vaccines against avian influenza virus A/H5N1 are in the last pilot stage. If successful, they will be made available on a large scale.-VNA