Hospitals across Vietnam have emptied their stock of vaccines for rabies, while new shipments are not expected to arrive for the next few weeks.
Patients bitten by animals were told to go home and wait as there were only two remaining venues in Ho Chi Minh City where they could get vaccinated against the deadly disease as of Wednesday afternoon.
There are two types of rabies vaccines in use in Vietnam, Verorab and Abhayrab, which are produced in France and India, respectively.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Vaccination Center for Children and Adults (VNVC) in Phu Nhuan District and the Gentical General Clinic in Tan Binh District were the only two places in Ho Chi Minh City where the vaccines were still available.
However, patients visiting VNVC were asked to book an appointment at least two days in advance, while only the Indian-made Abhayrab was available at Gentical.
A similar shortage is reported in Hanoi, where there are only 300 doses of Verorab left at the municipal Preventive Medicine Center.
“We save the French-made vaccines for patients who had already received at least a dose, while the Indian-made drugs are used for those getting vaccinated for the first time,” said Nguyen Nhat Cam, director of Hanoi’s Preventive Medicine Center.
According to doctors, Verorab is clinically proven to have no adverse effect on female fertility or embryo development, and therefore is prioritized for use on pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Meanwhile, there is no evidence to suggest or rule out that Abhayrab can cause birth defects, so doctors are advised to weigh the pros and cons before prescribing the vaccine for pregnant women.
Limited doses of the two vaccines have been made available at the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City as a temporary measure while it waits for new shipments to arrive, a doctor told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
According to a representative of Sanofi Pasteur, a distributor of Verorab in Vietnam, supply of the French-made vaccine is running out due to rising global demand.
It is expected that the earliest shipment of Verorab will arrive in Vietnam in May, the representative said.
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