The health ministry has said reaction rates of the ComBE Five vaccine in Vietnam remain “within acceptable limits,” after three children reportedly died after being administered the India-made vaccine.
ComBE Five is a 5-in-1 vaccine manufactured by India-based Biological E. Limited, providing protection in administered children against Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B, and diphtheria.
Vietnam’s health ministry announced in October 2018 that ComBE Five would replace Quinvaxem, a South Korea-made vaccine of the same type, to be used in a national immunization program after Quinvaxem production was ceased.
As of mid-December 2018, over 17,000 children in the seven Vietnamese provinces of Ha Nam, Bac Giang, Yen Bai, Kon Tum, Binh Dinh, Dong Thap and Ba Ria-Vung Tau had been vaccinated with ComBE Five in the program supported by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Voice of Vietnam reports.
The ComBE Five vaccination program was launched nationwide in late December 2018.
A two-month-old infant in Hanoi died last Thursday, one day after being vaccinated with ComBE Five, making it the third case of death post-vaccination in Vietnam in under a month.
Earlier, two infants in the northern province of Nam Dinh also died after being administered ComBE Five on December 25, 2018.
According to the Ministry of Health, over 131,000 children in Vietnam have received ComBE Five shots since the launch of the immunization program.
Among them, 2.5 percent suffered from mild reactions after vaccination including swelling, pain at the injection location, and mild fever, while only 0.05 percent had severe reactions including high fever, convulsions, excessive crying, and death.
The health ministry stresses that such reaction rates remain “within acceptable limits” set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Nevertheless, the ministry said it would launch additional programs to train healthcare workers on vaccination safety, especially in remote areas.
Parents are advised to keep a close watch on their child’s condition for at least two days after vaccination, as symptoms can take days to appear.
According to Hoang Duc Hanh, deputy director of Hanoi’s Department of Health, 12 severe cases of reaction to the Quinvaxem vaccine were also reported in the capital city in 2018.
However, as reactions to Quinvaxem typically appeared within 30 minutes post-vaccination, doctors were able to give the patients timely treatment and save them from death, Hanh explained.