Hanoi has temporarily suspended the use of jabs from two Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine batches in its ongoing campaign to inoculate children against the coronavirus, in the wake of national drug regulators' extension of their expiry by three months.
On Tuesday, parents in the Vietnamese capital raised concerns over the city’s plan to vaccinate students aged from 12 to 17 using doses from Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine lots 124001 and 123002 amid news that their shelf life had been extended from the original expiration date of November 30, 2021 to February 28, 2022.
Addressing these concerns, the Hanoi Department of Health on Wednesday ordered a temporary suspension of shots from the two vaccine batches while it was “reviewing all steps” of the vaccination campaign.
A senior official from the Hanoi Center for Disease Control confirmed that the city would stop administering Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses from the two batches, pending further instructions.
The official added that the municipal Department of Health is still awaiting an official document declaring the suspension of the batches' jabs from the Ministry of Health.
On Wednesday, authorities in Hanoi also conducted a thorough review of the venues, procedures, equipment, and human resources involved in its vaccination drive, according to Tran Thi Nhi Ha, director of the Hanoi Department of Health.
“Hanoi resumed administering COVID-19 vaccine doses to students this afternoon, December 1, as soon as assessments of professional and procedural compliance became available,” Ha said, adding that only two lots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are affected by the suspension.
The local health department is still awaiting information from the Ministry of Health on whether or not vaccine shots from the affected lots are safe for future use.
As of 6:00 pm Tuesday, medical workers in Hanoi had administered 283,250 COVID-19 vaccine doses to children aged 15-17.
So far, about 92 percent of the age group have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Just over 36 percent of children aged 12 and 14 in the capital city have been jabbed at least once. The total number of shots given to this age group amounts to 143,103.
The health ministry's Drug Administration of Vietnam previously announced that vials of lots 124001 and 123002 could be used for three months beyond their November 30, 2021 expiration date as long as they were stored at temperatures between -90 and -60 degrees Celsius.
The conditional extension is guaranteed by Pfizer Vietnam and based on a conclusion from an advisory board, the drug regulator noted.