So good vaccines don’t go bad

Man in red shirt sitting at his desk.

Vu Minh Huong. Photo: PATH/Nguyen Phu Cuong.

To have the best chance of saving a child from potentially deadly infection caused by hepatitis B, you must administer hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth. Not only must the vaccine be delivered promptly, it must be kept at a stable temperature to remain effective—a challenge when vaccines must travel long distances under varying conditions.

Project Optimize, a joint project of the World Health Organization and PATH, is collaborating with the government of Vietnam to test and apply technological advances to improve vaccine delivery systems. Dr. Vu Minh Huong, PATH’s senior team leader for vaccines and immunization in Vietnam, recently spoke about that work as part of our Power of Vaccines special feature. You can see his complete interview in the special feature.

Using the sun to cool

The sun, for example, powers one option for safe storage, says Vu Minh. “We’ve installed two solar-powered refrigerators in district-level health centers, where electricity can be unreliable and expensive,” he says. “They worked so well during the initial months that Vietnam’s manager of the National Expanded Program on Immunization recommended that they be used for regular vaccine storage in those centers.”

Making vaccines safer and more accessible means a lot to Vu Minh. “I’ve had many chances to see children infected with hepatitis B since I began working for PATH in 1997, and parents tell me how much they want the vaccine to protect their children,” he says. “I also understand how challenging it is for commune health workers to make an extra trip to the district health center to get the vaccine, especially in mountainous areas or during the rainy season. My colleagues and I are working hard to find solutions to protect newborns from this deadly infection, and we’re optimistic that we are succeeding.”

See the rest of Vu Minh’s interview.

Posted in Maternal and child health, Vaccines and immunization | Permalink

4 Responses to So good vaccines don’t go bad

  1. This is a good cause and since vaccines protect us from many deadly infections and diseases, they should be kept in good storage conditions to avoid spoilage. Making of some vaccines is an expensive procedure and therefore the most ultimate prevention against spoilage and increasing their shelf life is required. I admire your passion to reduce infant mortality due to hepatitis B in mountainous areas. I am also optimistic that you will succeed in this great cause.

  2. Hepatitis B shot should NOT be given to a new born. Unless this new born is from a drug addict. There is NO reason to be giving a perfectly healthy child a B shot which is full of toxic poisons.

  3. Recombivax is the Trade Name for Merck & Co’s Hepatitis B vaccine. The Recombivax Hepatitis B Vaccine Ingredients include genetic sequence of the hepatitis B virus that codes for the surface antigen (HbSAg), cloned into GMO yeast, and the chemicals aluminum hydroxide and thimerosal.

    Thimerasol is 50% mercury, the second most toxic substance known to man. It is a Neurotoxin and can damage several internal parts of the body but it’s primary target is the Central Nervous System. Mercury is especially toxic to infants and unborn children whose brains are not yet developed.

    Article by Daniel Dunkin – Content Writer and Artist

  4. Kathleen Donnelly

    Thanks for your comments. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends hepatitis B vaccine for several age groups, including newborns. You can see more on the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-hep-b.pdf.

    Thimerasol is a preservative that has been used in vaccines for more than 50 years. It contains an organic form of mercury. Several expert groups, including the European Medicines Agency, the US Institute of Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree that the amount of mercury in thimerasol falls within safe limits when used in vaccines. Just last month, a distinguished panel of experts at the World Health Organization reaffirmed that vaccines containing thimerasol are “safe, essential and irreplaceable components of immunization programs.”

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