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Jun 12, 2023 / 12:00

Vietnam to remove barriers to ensure adequate vaccine supply for children

Vietnam will seek more supplies of vaccines for the expanded immunization program.

An adequate supply of vaccines for children must be ensured as soon as possible, Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister Tran Hong Ha said at a meeting with heads of ministries, sectors and localities on the Expanded Vaccination Program over the weekend.

Ha made the request amid a series of emerging problems in vaccine procurement, suggesting that finding a feasible and timely solution is necessary to ensure enough vaccines for children as planned.

The Deputy Prime Minister asked the Minister of Health (MoH) and directors of health departments nationwide to propose feasible solutions to resolve problems in tendering, ordering, price negotiation, and purchase of vaccines for the program.

Deputy Prime Minister Tran Hong Ha speaks at a meeting on the procurement of vaccines in the expanded immunization program. Photo: VGP

"In any case, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must work with manufacturers, international organizations, and some countries to seek more supplies of vaccines for the expanded immunization program,” Ha stressed.

He urged the MoH to immediately issue a guideline on disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment protocols for infected children if the vaccine has not been administered according to schedule.

At the meeting, Health Minister Dao Hong Lan said that many localities face obstacles in purchasing vaccines regarding price reference, bidding, and ordering mechanisms.

"Nine of the 11 types of vaccines for the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) have run out so far," Lan said.

She said the ministry hopes to be allowed to continue purchasing vaccines for the expanded immunization program, as it is an effective program with significant importance in ensuring social welfare for women and children.

"In the past, the MoH has worked with relevant ministries, sectors and localities on measures in purchasing, bidding, and negotiating prices for some types of vaccines," Lan added.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Anh Dung, Deputy Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health, pointed to some legal obstacles to the work.

All EPI vaccines are on the list of drugs for national centralized tendering, so there is no mechanism for local tendering. In addition, the central authorities should allocate a budget to the Ministry of Health for tendering activities and allow it to distribute the vaccines.

"This way, it will only take one or two months to get the vaccine and solve the current vaccine shortage," he noted.

Tran Thi Nhi Ha, Director of Hanoi's Department of Health, said the city has run out of some vaccines for the expanded immunization program, but there is no mechanism for the capital to buy vaccines on its own.

"We recommend that the MoH continue to implement the mechanism to buy and tender vaccines and distribute them to localities," the Hanoi health official said.