VietNamNet Bridge - On December 18, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) issued a joint statement confirming that there was no evidence of danger of the 5 in 1 Quinvaxem vaccine in Vietnam and in other countries.


Each year in Vietnam, vaccines protect 1.5 million children under 1 year of age against a minimum of 8 life-threatening childhood diseases. However, over the past few months parents may have been worried about a number of media reports that have suggested a link between a small number of child deaths or adverse events, and vaccination with the 5-in-1 or pentavalent vaccine.

Any report of an adverse event following immunization is a major concern. At the Government of Vietnam’s request, WHO and UNICEF helped to support an investigation with independent national and international assistance. No evidence was found to indicate that the quality or safety of pentavalent vaccine has directly or indirectly led to child deaths following immunization, the statement said.

In June 2013, Vietnam’s findings were also presented at a global meeting of independent vaccine safety experts. They considered evidence from Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka, but following a thorough review concluded that there was no evidence to suggest a problem with the safety of pentavalent vaccines in any of the countries. This report has been made publicly available.  

The statement confirmed that when thousands of children are vaccinated on a daily basis, a small number of reports of adverse events following immunization are to be expected. In some cases, children taken for immunizations are suffering from underlying childhood illnesses such as pneumonia or diarrhea, or serious congenital diseases that may not yet have been diagnosed.

On very rare occasions – less than one in a million – an otherwise healthy child can suffer a serious allergic reaction to a vaccine, which requires immediate medical attention. If a child develops any unusual symptoms in the hours following immunization, including difficulty in breathing, parents should seek immediate medical attention. Such allergic reactions are similar to the kind of sensitivity that a small number of individuals may have to a bee sting, peanuts or penicillin, but can be treated with the appropriate medication, the statement advised.

WHO and UNICEF stressed that the vaccine protects children against five life threatening diseases. The chances of dying or suffering from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Haemophilus type B or Hepatitis B are far greater than any possible side effect from the vaccine.  

In January, WHO sent notices to the Ministry of Health of Vietnam confirming the safety of the 5 in 1 vaccine Quivaxem after an independent survey was performed.

After a 5-month pause, the Ministry of Health allowed the re-use of this vaccine from October 2013. Some cases of reactions after vaccination were reported but the Ministry of Health said that these were normal reactions after the vaccination. There were 2 kids who died after injection but not because of the vaccine, according to the Health Ministry.

The Quinvaxem vaccine was included in the national expanded immunization program in Vietnam from June 2010. Some 400 million doses have been used in 91 countries worldwide.

Le Ha