Vietnam reaffirms AstraZeneca vaccinations will continue despite global concerns

By Viet Tuan   March 17, 2021 | 04:00 pm PT
Vietnam reaffirms AstraZeneca vaccinations will continue despite global concerns
A medical worker holds a vial of Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca against a file with name and address of a person that is about to get vaccinated in Hanoi, March 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Not a single recipient has developed blood clots after being administered the AstraZeneca vaccine since the launch of a mass inoculation program in Vietnam, and thus it will be continued.

The Ministry of Health said it has been keeping track of all developments related to the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, globally and nationally, after the nation rolled out a mass vaccination program on March 8.

So far, the country "has not recorded any blood clotting case in people injected with the vaccine and the ministry has directed all healthcare facilities chosen for the inoculation program to continue the task," health minister Nguyen Thanh Long said at a regular government meeting Wednesday.

As of Thursday morning, 24,054 medical staff and frontline workers in 12 localities including Hanoi and HCMC had received the first dose of the vaccine developed by the British-Swedish company in collaboration with Oxford University.

Of these, more than 4,000 reported normal side effects and five had minor complications, with six suffering from anaphylaxis and three others developing diarrhea, allergies and low pulse pressure. Just one person suffered serious anaphylaxis. Eight hours after getting the shot, the person, whose identity has not been disclosed, showed symptoms of third-degree anaphylaxis like fever, shivering, convulsions, and numbness in the hands.

All six people have been treated in hospitals and are in stable health now.

Long said that the person that developed third-degree anaphylaxis did not get the emergency first-aid as guided by the ministry.

"We have sent experts over to this health facility where the shot was given to remedy the situation and ensure that the process will be carried out properly in the future," he said.

The ministry has requested that all facilities tasked with the administering the vaccine keep a close eye on all recipients in order to make careful, accurate assessments.

Professor Dang Duc Anh, director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and head of the national Expanded Program on Immunization, made a similar statement last Friday about Vietnam would continue with AstraZeneca vaccination program after no case of blood clot was recorded.

The institute said Monday that the number of people experiencing side effects after receiving their Covid-19 shots in Vietnam was "within the expected level."

At least 17 countries including France, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Indonesia, and Thailand have suspended or delayed using the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine after reports of blood clots in people who received the shot. The World Health Organization has called on governments around the world to continue their vaccination campaigns.

The European medicines regulator, which is reviewing the issue, will announce its findings Thursday after assessing whether the vaccine contributed to blood clotting in recipients. It said it continues to believe that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Vietnam has ordered 30 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The first batch of 117,600 doses arrived late last month and is expected to be used by this month.

The country will receive another 4.1 million AstraZeneca doses under the Covax facility by April. It is also negotiating supply of Covid-19 vaccines with manufacturers in the U.S., Russia and China.

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