China urges acceleration of vaccination at national mobilization meeting
Published: Mar 23, 2021 12:08 PM


China has set the acceleration of its vaccination drive as a political task and the top priority mission of governments at all levels following a video meeting convened by the State Council on Monday, which experts said is a sign that China is preparing nationwide mobilization for this end.

Speaking at the video meeting to government officials and officials from regional branches of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention across the country, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan emphasized the need to accelerate free vaccination and boost the vaccination rate across the country.

While Sun urged departments and localities to improve organization and coordination to ensure that vaccination objectives are achieved on schedule, she also reiterated the efficacy of Chinese vaccines. 

The vaccination drive is of great significance to reducing COVID-19 infection and providing a strong guarantee for consolidating the foundation for economic recovery and growth and promoting the domestic and international dual circulation of the economy, the Chinese Premier said.

After the meeting, regions including Shanghai, East China's Jiangsu Province and Central China's Henan Province have been releasing press statements since Monday, in which the acceleration of vaccination was described as an urgent "political task" to be carried out. 

The Global Times learnt that even after raising the acceleration of vaccination to a political level, taking the COVID-19 shot is purely based on voluntary participation. 

“Listing it as a political mission represents the urgency of pushing forward vaccination, but it doesn’t make the vaccination compulsory,” an anonymous official from North China’s Hebei Province said.

The main method to boost public willingness to get the jabs is letting leaders and government officials take the lead, the local official said.

A national vaccination schedule has not yet officially been made public, but Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had said that it is hoped China will reach 70 percent to 80 percent coverage of inoculation with the COVID-19 vaccines, basically achieving herd immunity by the beginning of 2022, or even by the end of 2021.

Shortly after the national video meeting on Monday, lower-administrative governments across the country deployed their own version of a vaccination plan on the same day. 

The Global Times learned from a local official in Dongtai, East China's Jiangsu Province, that according to the requirements delivered in the meeting, Dongtai laid out a three-phase vaccination drive to cover about 40 percent of the local population, mainly adults between ages 18 and 59, by the end of June. Another 25 percent, mainly seniors aged 60 and above, would be covered by the end of this year, and the rest of the population by next year.  

Many other regions including East China's Anhui and Fujian provinces had made similar plans and inoculation targets under a three-phase vaccination plan. 

The national meeting required departments at all levels to acknowledge the fact that vaccination is a major medical health issue that touches on the state of health of the Chinese people; a major public safety issue related to systematic economic and social development and whether China will be able to complete economic and social development tasks; as well as a major political issue related to China's comprehensive national strength and international influence.

While China is ramping up efforts to speed up vaccination, the Global Times found some Western media is lashing at China’s slow inoculation. An immunology expert from Beijing told the Global Times that China has a relatively low vaccination rate but the total number of vaccinated population ranks second. There is no comparison with other countries.

The expert said that lambasting China’s slow inoculation will not change China’s principle of safety first for rolling out the vaccination drive. China had administered more than 74 million vaccine doses without any severe adverse effects and deaths reported.

He also suggested to speed up the official approval of vaccines on the market as a way to further boost public confidence over inoculation safety and efficacy.
Four vaccines entered the market conditionally and one was approved for emergency use after reviewing trial data. Mass vaccination is safe and effective, the Chinese Vice Premier also said.