Vaccines keep children alive and healthy by protecting them against disease. In Viet Nam, immunization has saved millions of lives and protected countless children from illness and disability. The country’s national Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), with UNICEF support, has led to the successful eradication of polio, elimination of neonatal tetanus and control of measles. In the last 25 years, vaccines have protected 6.7 million Vietnamese children and prevented 42,000 deaths from deadly childhood diseases such as diphtheria, pertussis, polio and tetanus.
Despite these achievements, the EPI today faces newly emerging challenges to protect these hard-won gains and reach communities with low immunization rates. Coverage in mountainous, remote and ethnic minority-populated areas remains low. There are also concerns about ‘vaccine hesitancy’ - a mistrust of immunization among some parents, fuelled by myths and misinformation. This erosion in public confidence commonly occurs after rare cases of ‘adverse events following immunization’, with negative media stories erroneously linking cases of child deaths to immunization without the full facts.