No action on vaccine despite deaths in Japan

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 March, 2011, 12:00am

The Health Department said last night it would continue using a pneumococcal vaccine that was suspended in Japan after the deaths of four children who received the jab.

A spokesman did not elaborate on why it would continue using Prevnar, made by US drug maker Pfizer. He said local authorities had 'no information' on why Tokyo yesterday suspended its use and launched an inquiry. The news was widely reported in Japanese media.

The vaccine has been used in Hong Kong since the launch of the pneumococcal vaccination programme in 2009. The department replaced it with GlaxoSmithKline's Synflorix for children aged up to two years after a tender in October, but Prevenar is still used for older children.

Kyodo News reported that that doctors had described the deaths as either unclear or impossible to evaluate. Some of the children had underlying illnesses.

Japan also suspended another vaccine, ActHIB by Sanofi Pasteur, which prevents bacterial meningitis and was used by three of the children.