Jinhu government to investigate expired vaccines to children

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/13 22:55:05

Urgent need to upgrade nationwide vaccine management system

A primary school student in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region looks forward to her vaccination. Vaccines are a hot issue in contemporary Chinese society after a string of scandals have raised safety and regulatory questions. Photo: VCG

The mainstream media and experts urged improvement of the vaccine management system during the weekend after  the local government promised to launch a thorough investigation into misconduct as 100 children in Jinhu county, East China's Jiangsu Province received expired oral vaccines.

According to a statement released by the Public Security Bureau of  Jinhu on Saturday, parents whose children received expired vaccines gathered in front of the Jinhu government. 

Others whose children had not received expired vaccines also showed up on Friday. They took the opportunity to create trouble, spread rumors, incite people to gather, block government gates, block traffic and disrupt public order. Three people were arrested on Saturday for stirring up trouble, the statement said.

Tao Lina, a Shanghai-based vaccine expert, told the Global Times on Sunday the online vaccine registration system used by local health departments should be held responsible as well for expired vaccines. "The system obviously failed to alert doctors that the vaccines passed their expiry dates or registered the wrong expiry date."

The People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China, said on Saturday on Sina Weibo that misconduct has to be investigated and there is an urgent need to improve the vaccine management system.

"Vaccines are a matter of life and death. They cannot afford mistakes," the newspaper said.

The Jinhu government promised to form a special investigation team and to provide timely information after at least 145 children were given expired polio vaccines. 

The Jinhu government said in a statement on Friday that the incident was caused by "disorderly management and staff misconduct." 

Seventeen people have been punished so far, including the deputy county head of Jinhu. The local disciplinary inspection department also launched an investigation and promised to hold relevant people responsible, the statement said.

According to an earlier announcement by the health and family planning commission of Jinhu county on Thursday, three people were removed from their posts and five others were investigated. 

The incident began after a batch of polio vaccines with an expiration date of December 11, 2018 was administered orally to children at Licheng health center, a county-run health facility in Jinhu, on January 7. 

The health center had sealed 69 bottles of expired polio vaccines. Each bottle provides seven doses. In total 27 expired vaccines were used between December 12 and January 7.

However, after two days, the Global Times found the official statement was still on the front page of its website, which was dated Friday. No new information has been given to the public as of press time.

The incident sparked petitions from parents to the Jinhu government on Friday. 

Some companies issued a warning to their employees after the petition. "Because of the expired vaccine incident in Jinhu, the relevant announcement by the government suggested parents and employees who have children not get involved and make trouble. Please follow the procedure and be rational." The information was provided by a local resident surnamed Wu.

The Jinhu government promised to offer free diagnosis for children who experienced discomfort after receiving expired vaccines, and parents can also register at the local health department to inquire. 

Parents reached by the Global Times on Sunday said the use of expired vaccines in Jinhu dates back 10 years but the problem was only been exposed in January. Expired vaccines include not only polio vaccines but DPT, hepatitis B and varicella. 

The statement on Friday said the country asked local health departments to register information on vaccines by the end of 2016, but the online registration system was not updated.

To tighten supervision over vaccines, China released a draft law on vaccine management in January and is seeking public opinions for about a month. Hundreds of suggestions have been received, the Beijing News reported. 

The Jinhu incident happened after the vaccine case involving Changchun Changsheng in July 2018. Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences Limited was fined more than 9.1 billion yuan ($1.32 billion) for the illegal production of a human rabies vaccine. 

Newspaper headline: Jinhu govt to investigate expired vaccines to children

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