Low vaccination rate in localities culprit of diphtheria outbreaks

Though vaccine against diphtheria has been included in the National Expanded Immunization Program in Vietnam and children have enjoyed free vaccine in the program for years, the country has not eradicated the disease due to low vaccination rate in some localities.
A medical worker is giving vaccination consultation to a child (Photo: SGGP)
A medical worker is giving vaccination consultation to a child (Photo: SGGP)

The Tropical Disease Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday announced the 13-year-old child who was transferred from a local infirmary in the Central Highlands Province of Dak Nong got worse because of serious myocarditis despite of medical workers’ efforts.

Head of the Intensive Care Unit for Children Dr. Phan Tu Quy said that the child will be supported by extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) of the hospital, medical workers consider heart transplant.

The children has not taken serum to fight toxic though she suffered the disease for six days in local infirmary where has no serum. Worse, the child’ relatives admitted they have not taken the child to hospital for vaccination against diphtheria.

Explaining recurrence of diphtheria outbreaks recently, head of the Department of Preventive Medicine Dr. Dang Quang Tan said the because the fatal disease has not been eradicated in the Southeast Asian country; residents can contract it.

From early June till now, more than 12 cases of diphtheria including one death have been recorded in several distant communes of Dak Nong. Ho Chi Minh City also reported a case of diphtheria.

He added that through epidemiologic survey carried out in Dak Nong, reoccurrence of diphtheria is explicable because Dak Nong has low vaccination rate with 48 percent -52 percent. Most of diphtheria cases in Dak Nong Province’s remote regions where ethnic minority groups are living have not been immunized against the disease.

Deputy Head of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology Associate Professor Duong Thi Hong said the vaccination rate dropped dramatically during the time of changing five-in-one vaccine Quinvaxem to vaccine ComBe Five.

Moreover, during social distancing due to coronavirus, sudden halt of vaccination also contributed to low vaccination proportion.

Mass vaccination program has been conducted on children under seven in 3 cities and provinces with high risk of diphtheria and tetanus outbreaks. Medical workers proposed to provide supplementary immunization on children who have not been injected vaccine against diphtheria and tetanus.