Conference told many parents prefer to wait for imported vaccines than use those supplied for free under the national immunization program.
There were shortages of imported vaccines in Vietnam’s immunization services when there were outbreaks of diseases, a conference in Hanoi last week was told.
The conference was held to gather public and private comments on improving vaccination quality in the country.
Head of the Vietnam Association of Preventive Medicine, Mr. Nguyen Tran Hien, said that an outbreak of disease created an increase in demand that vaccine suppliers cannot meet.
Many mothers refused free vaccines that were supplied under the national immunization program, preferring to wait for imported vaccines before vaccinating their children.
The World Health Organization in Vietnam has warned that by delaying vaccinations or failing to follow the recommended national immunization schedule, parents put their children and the broader community at serious risk of disease.
Mr. Hien said that many people prefer to pay for immunization rather than use the free vaccines supplied under national programs. The Ministry of Health (MoH) supplies 12 free vaccines, including those for tuberculosis, diphtheria, polio, and whooping cough.
Immunization services at hospitals and clinics, where people must pay for their children’s vaccines, are considered more convenient and reliable. There have been reports about negative reactions after vaccination among those who used vaccines supplied under the national program.
Mr. Hien said that, in Vietnam, pharmaceutical companies ordered vaccines from their overseas partners when they felt demand was rising.
Head of the Pharmacy Management Department under MoH, Mr. Truong Quoc Cuong, said it was necessary to increase vaccine imports to meet domestic demand and the department has called for administrative simplification in this regard.
Representatives from the Department of Preventive Medicine under MoH said that communication activities were needed to help people understand more about the vaccines provided under the national immunization program and immunization services.
The national program has a sufficient supply of all vaccines for children aged under five.
Vietnam expects to make 5-in-1 and 6-in-1 vaccines from 2018 to meet domestic demand.
According to WHO, in the last 25 years vaccines have protected 6.7 million Vietnamese children and prevented 42,000 deaths from childhood diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio.