China hit by new vaccine scandal, as up to 18 children given wrong shot

05-Feb-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Two public health officials in northern China have been sacked and a third detained in the latest vaccine scandal to hit the country, this time involving as many as 18 children possibly being given the wrong injections, state media reported.

Gu Wenjun, head of a state-run centre for disease control and prevention in the Qiaoxi district of Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province, and Huang Huiran, director of the centre’s immunisation programme, were fired after a woman reported to the police that her child had been given an HIB vaccine instead of a pentavalent one, Xinhua reported.

145 babies and toddlers given expired polio vaccines in China

As well as being removed from their posts, the two men are under investigation for possible wrongdoing, while the head of the community clinic, Wei Jingli, has been detained, the report said.

The district government confirmed in a statement that a worker at the clinic had mistakenly given one child the wrong vaccine but said it did not know how many others might have been affected.

A separate report by Beijing Times quoted parents as saying that although the clinic’s records stated that 44 children were given pentavalent vaccines, other documents showed it had only 26 doses available.

On that basis, as many as 18 children might have been given the wrong injections, the report said.

The clinic said it would investigate which children had or had not been properly immunised and take steps to avoid a repeat of the incident.

The HIB (Hemophilus influenzae type B) vaccine is much cheaper than the pentavalent option, which provides children with protection against diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis), tetanus, hepatitis B and HIB.

The incident in Qiaoxi is another knock to the public’s confidence in China’s health care system after a slew of scandals last year.

In July, the state drug regulator reported that Changchun Changsheng Bio-technology, one of China’s biggest vaccine makers, had produced 252,600 substandard DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) vaccines that had been given to hundreds of thousands of babies.

China’s lawmakers consider ‘strictest’ rules on vaccine industry after scandals

In response to the public outcry, lawmakers in November released the first draft of a new law on vaccine management, which if enacted would allow people to sue drug makers for punitive damages in cases of death or serious illness caused by faulty vaccines.

But just weeks later, on January 11, hundreds of angry parents took to the streets and gathered outside government buildings in Jinhu county, Jiangsu province in protest after finding out that their babies and toddlers had been given out-of-date polio vaccines.

Official reports confirmed that at least 145 children aged between three months and four years received vaccines that had passed their expiry dates.


Category: China

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