Worries about the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines and the quality of children’s jabs with extended expiration dates have made parents in Ho Chi Minh City hesitant to have their children vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to a recent survey.
The municipal Center for Disease Control (HCDC) on Thursday announced the results of a rapid survey of 2,792 parents on vaccinations for children aged five to under 18 years old who are attending schools in 22 districts of the city.
Of these parents, 76 percent have kids aged five to under 12, and the rest have children from 12 to less than 18 years old.
Out of the more than 2,100 children aged five to below 12 involved in the survey, 34 percent had yet to be immunized, 33 percent had received their first vaccine shots, and the other 33 percent had gotten their third jabs.
In the 12-18 age group, 15 children had yet to be inoculated while the numbers of those with the first, second, and third vaccine doses were 29, 326, and 299, respectively, the HCDC reported.
Among the unimmunized children, those having suffered acute diseases accounted for 21 percent, the highest proportion, followed by children who were absent from the city during the vaccination period, at 19 percent, and those having recovered from COVID-19 within six months before they were eligible for vaccination, at 16 percent.
Besides these objective reasons, the survey revealed two subjective issues that discouraged parents from having children vaccinated, including worries about the quality of the vaccines with extended shelf lives, accounting for 19 percent, and the fear over possible side effects, making up 13 percent.
Other minor reasons represented from one to eight percent of the total number of unimmunized children.
Regarding side effects from COVID-19 vaccines, the city’s Department of Health said that most symptoms experienced by people after vaccination are mild and the sector and local schools are always well prepared to help parents best deal with them.
“The inoculation of children has been carried out safely so far,” the department said.
The agency also explained that COVID-19 vaccines, approved for emergency use only, have no fixed shelf life, but their expiry dates are based on the manufacturer’s research data that suggests a period in which the manufactured vaccine will bring the optimal results, provided they are stored appropriately.
After obtaining data on the quality stability of a vaccine produced, the manufacturer submits their data to the competent authorities for permission to extend expiration dates, the department said.
Therefore, parents should be assured about the quality and safety of vaccines intended for children, as these issues are a top priority of any responsible health authority, the agency stated.
The department launched 'the peak COVID-19 vaccination month for children' on August 1, 2022.
The city now has about 890,000 children aged five to under 12 and 780,000 others from 12 to less than 18 years old, according to the department.
The latest statistics show that first- and second-dose vaccination rates among children aged five to under 12 have reached 51.2 percent and 26.9 percent, respectively, since the city began the campaign for this age group in April this year.
These proportions are lower than the country’s average rates of 71 percent and 39.9 percent, respectively, local health authorities said.
Among children aged 12 to under 18, the third-dose inoculation rate reached 25.5 percent, also less than the national average of 38.1 percent.
The latest statistics showed that Ho Chi Minh City has recorded 616,608 COVID-19 cases, including 19,984 mortalities, since the pandemic hit Vietnam in early 2020, the Ministry of Health reported on Thursday.
Nationwide, over 11,376,000 COVID-19 cases have been documented, with more than 10,049,000 recoveries and 43,103 fatalities.
Since vaccination was rolled out across the country in March 2020, nearly 217 million vaccine doses have been administered to people, including about 71.3, 68.8, and 12.3 million first, second, and additional primary and booster shots, respectively, the ministry said.