Since November 2012, at least six infants in Vietnam have died and three others suffered serious complications after getting the pentavalent vaccine Quinvaxem. The vaccine may also been responsible for deaths of at least five children in Sri Lanka, eight in Bhutan, at least three in Pakistan, and, more recently, at least four in India over two years after its launch in 2006.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy is one of the parents who almost lost a child. Her three-month-old daughter Nguyen Thu Truc was administered a vaccine used nationwide under an expanded national vaccination program. Thuy said her daughter had a fever and cried loudly before losing consciousness several hours after taking the pentavalent vaccine Quinvaxem. On that same day, two other infants who had also taken Quinvaxem earlier in the day were also admitted to the hospital. Deputy director of the Binh Dinh Health Department, Le Quang Hung, said local health authorities had sealed the batch of vaccines and sent it to the Ministry of Health for further tests.
Nguyen Huy Nhat, a two-month-old baby boy in Thanh Hoa Province was not as lucky as some of the other babies taking Quinvaxem. Nhat took Quinvaxem and the oral polio vaccine at around 9:30 a.m. on November 12, 2012 according to the Thanh Hoa Center for Preventive Health. That same day, his family brought him to a local health station at around 4:30 p.m. after he began crying a lot and his breathing became rapid and his lips turned pale. Nhat was transferred to Thanh Hoa Children’s Hospital on November 13 where died after being diagnosed with breath failure and complicated heart disease.
The hospital claims that he died of heart disease but the coincidence of his death after taking Quinvaxem has sparked alarm, especially after the three cases in Binh Dinh and several more cases in other provinces. Nguyen Tran Hien, director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and chairman of the National Extended Vaccination Program, has asked the World Health Organiztion (WHO) to have another independent agency test the involved batches. He also advised the producer, Berna Biotech Korea Corporation of South Korea, to review production and distribution of the vaccine in Vietnam. He said the vaccine is no longer used in South Korea because the country has shifted to a new generation product with less possibility of reactions.
Local health authorities have suspended three batches of the pentavalent vaccine. They continue to insist, however, that the vaccine is safe even after several deaths. The vaccine was introduced globally by the Netherlands-based biopharmaceutical company Crucell. Crucell recently stopped vaccine distribution of the Inflexal V flu vaccine. "Potential danger" to health was claimed for the recall. See: www.examiner.com/article/2-3-million-doses-of-flu-vaccine-recalled-for-p...
Nguyen Van Binh, director of the health ministry’s Preventive Health Department, said that the ministry is going to send samples from the suspect batches to an independent laboratory in the Netherlands. "...there is no evidence proving that there is no possible link,” he said. He also said that the health ministry has suspended all Quinvaxem batches suspected of causing reactions.
On Tuesday, health minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien signed an instruction on monitoring children after they are vaccinated. She asked relevant agencies to offer “complete consultancy” to the family of the children about risks, conduct examinations to identify contraindications and prepare enough drugs and equipment for the treatment of complications after vaccination. According to the health ministry, the proportion of serious reactions to vaccination in Vietnam is 0.5-0.9 per every one million doses which does not coincide with the nine cases of serious reactions in more than one month after taking Quinvaxem and tuberculosis vaccines.
In the British Medical Journal a group of pediatricians, professors, health activists and a former Indian health secretary cautions against the introduction of the five-in-one vaccine that combines antigens against five diseases in a single shot. The article accused the WHO of “an elaborate cover-up,” changing its own criteria for classifying adverse effects “to say the vaccine was not responsible for the deaths in Sri Lanka.” See: www.examiner.com/article/infant-deaths-prompt-doctors-and-academicians-t...
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