Town apologizes for controversial COVID-19 vaccination notice
Published: Apr 02, 2021 01:30 PM
A medical worker (R) inoculates a recipient with a 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination site in Haidian District of Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 29, 2021. The administration of the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines for key groups of residents throughout Beijing started on Jan. 22, and is expected to conclude before Feb. 8.Photo:Xinhua

File photo:Xinhua

A town in southern China canceled its controversial COVID-19 vaccine inoculation notice on Wednesday, which claimed to "blacklist" local people who are not vaccinated and ban them from taking public transport and entering public venues such as restaurants and supermarkets.

In a statement released online on Wednesday evening, the authorities in Wancheng town, South China's Hainan Province said they would cancel all the possible penalties the notice mentioned. "We sincerely apologize for the improper way that we mobilized vaccination," read the statement.

Residents in Wancheng confirmed to the Global Times on Thursday that the local government had withdrawn the notice. "The notices were recently posted at residential communities, but I didn't see them today," said a local shop owner surnamed Wen.

Another resident surnamed Feng who received a vaccination last week said there were no government staffers forcing him to do it. "It was my own decision to get vaccinated," he told the Global Times.

The notice caused heated debate on Chinese social media, with some netizens criticizing the unkindness and power abuse of a few regional governments in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

But other netizens said it was acceptable for grassroots officials to use some "special means" to persuade people to get inoculated, which is one of the most urgent things in China at present. "To be vaccinated and protect yourself from the coronavirus is good for all of us," one Weibo user wrote on Thursday. "I don't think there's anything wrong in the government doing this."

Tao Lina, a Shanghai-based medical expert on vaccines, also thought the Wancheng authorities' behavior in promoting vaccination was "understandable," taking public health into account.

"Those who aren't vaccinated are definitely more susceptible to COVID-19," Tao told the Global Times on Thursday, and they could become new transmission sources of the virus after being infected, causing a threat to public health. "It is selfish and ignorant to reject the vaccine," he noted.

Tao believes that appropriate compulsory measures are needed in vaccine rollouts, which are actually common in Western countries like the US. "Some states in the US regulate that children who do not have the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine are not eligible to go to school," he exampled.

At present in China, citizens get COVID-19 vaccination on a voluntary, free and safe basis. Medical personnel at inoculation sites inform people about the vaccine, and do not give it to those who have health conditions that are not suitable for the vaccination.

Currently, China only has a vaccination rate of 4 percent, China's top medical advisor Zhong Nanshan recently told the media, calling for people to get vaccinated. "Only the vaccine can provide us with better protection," Zhong noted.