No control on vaccine prices in HCMC

Recent deaths and hospitalization of infants after vaccination has increased worry and fear among parents who now are resorting to willing pay more for better quality vaccines than use those provided free in the Government Expanded Program on Immunization.

However, price of vaccines varies from one medical center to another. Cost of one shot of five-in-one vaccine can be as high as VND600,000-700,000 (US$28-33), and the price of the same vaccine may vary from clinic to clinic.

This cost difference of similar vaccines in the City is causing great concern among parents.

Mrs. Hoang Thi Phuong from Phu Nhuan District said she paid VND650,000 for five-in-one  Pentaxim vaccine at Pasteur Institute while her neighbor paid VND622,000 for the same vaccine at the Nutrition Center.

Parents have voiced their concern over the unreasonable difference in price of the same vaccine at different medical clinics. For instance, Hepatitis B EUVAX-B vaccine for children under 15 years of age at the Pasteur Institute costs VND80,000 per dose while it is VND85,000 at the Preventive Medicine Center and VND52,000 at Children Hospital 2.

Similarly, parents pay VND60,000 for Jevax vaccine for children under three years of age for prevention of Japanese encephalitis at the Preventive Medicine Center but it costs VND40,000 in the Pasteur Institute and VND35,000 in Children Hospital 2.

The difference in vaccine price has caused concern among parents in HCMC for years but there is no agency responsible for controlling vaccine prices, said a representative at the Preventive Medicine Center.

These days, parents take their babies to the Pasteur Institute, Preventive Medicine Center, Nutrition Center and Children Hospital 1 and 2 in Ho Chi Minh City for immunization. For instance, Pasteur Institute doctors administer vaccine shots for hundreds of toddlers in a day and as a result they sometimes run short of vaccines.

By Tuong Lam, Chuc Thuy – Translated by Uyen Phuong

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