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Who Is To Blame For Argentina’s Vaccine Shortage?

By | [email protected] | November 5, 2015 4:49pm

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A shortage in vaccines around the country has resulted in the typical finger-pointing game we all know and love: while Buenos Aires legislator for the Public Trust Party, Graciela Ocaña, lays the blame on the current administration’s restrictive measures on importations, government officials say the fault lies with several laboratories’ reported difficulties in producing the immunizations in question.
The lacking vaccines, in question, are 4-in-one, 5-in-one and 6-in-one shots (the kinds that combine several immunizations in a single jab).
According to Ocaña, this national shortage has its roots in the prohibitive importation policies imposed by the Casa Rosada. She claims the government regularly refuses to authorize payment for certain items or simply blocks the foreign exchange of key medical equipment and substances.
“We are short of several vaccines, among them the 5-in-one vaccine and the Sabin vaccine,” she stated. “Large immunization clinics are afraid that the government will confront them, so they don’t dare report it,” she went on, explaining that the topic has been brought up in private meetings before but no one has yet deigned to broach the subject publicly.
She added that the mammography department, to name but one example, also suffers from limited supplies at the hands of restricted imports.
Don't cry. Photo via Ministerio de Salud.

Don’t cry. Photo via Ministerio de Salud.

Yesterday and today, the Ministry of Health, Aníbal Fernández and several other government officials responded to these criticisms.
The Ministry of Health published an official statement yesterday which recognized the immunization issue but made it known that this kerfuffle lies at the feet of the production laboratories — particularly those based in Europe — and not at the feet of the government.
“The laboratories that produce acellular combined vaccinations [Glaxo Smith Klein and Sanofi Pasteur] informed us that they have been having some trouble producing the 4-in-one, 5-in-one and 6-in-one acellular vaccinations,” stated the Ministry.
Despite this teeny technical glitch, the government has assured the nation that everyone and anyone will still be able to source the required shot, given that they have stock enough to allow the 24 jurisdictions to keep on distributing the necessary immunization for now.
Fernández backed this statement up with his habitual meeting with the press earlier today and explained that, at the beginning of the current administration’s governance, “everything was missing,” the only thing that Argentina had enough of was “dengue and H1-N1,” he joked. “When I assumed office, there were five obligatory vaccinations and now there are 19,” he said. Ocaña and her complaints are, “not lucid at all,” he concluded.
Head of Public Relations at the Stamboulian Foundation (a foundation that deals with a great number of vaccination clinics), Liliana Moreno, has since supported this statement that the lack of immunization stems from laboratory problems.
In case you’re interested, here’s what these different vaccines fight against:
  • The 4-in-one acts against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus and Hib (haemophilus influenzae B)
  • The 5-in-one vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and Hib
  • The 6-in-one against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Hib AND Hepatitis B.
All of these immunizations should be administered before the age of two.