Chinese parents told vaccines ‘generally safe’ after scandals

Chinese parents told vaccines ‘generally safe’ after scandals

Lawmakers move to restore confidence in domestic products as people are discouraged from heading overseas to get their children vaccinated

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The head of China’s largest influenza vaccine supplier has urged mainland parents not to rush to Hong Kong for shots, claiming they might not be as safe as people expect.

An Kang, a National People’s Congress deputy and chairman of Hualan Biological Engineering – which supplied 80 per cent of flu vaccines on the mainland last winter – said there was no significant difference between domestic products and overseas brands.

Jiao Hong, head of the National Medical Products Administration, China’s vaccine regulator, also moved to restore confidence in domestic vaccines which, she said, were “generally safe”.

Jiao told reporters, on the sidelines of the NPC, that a law had been drafted which would require companies to build a sound quality management system, a product tracking system, as well as risk reporting mechanisms.

Jiao Hong, head of China’s National Medical Product Administration, said a new law would improve regulation of the country’s vaccine producers, at a press conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress in Beijing. Photo: Simon Song

Jiao Hong, head of China’s National Medical Product Administration, said a new law would improve regulation of the country’s vaccine producers, at a press conference on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress in Beijing. Photo: Simon SongShare:

It would also improve the lot release mechanism – a process for the inspection and approval of vaccine products as safe and effective for use – by adding more site checks, Jiao said.

The Chinese public’s confidence in domestic vaccines hit rock bottom last year when Changchun Changsheng Bio-technology, one of the country’s biggest vaccine makers, was found to have systematically manipulated data and produced hundreds of thousands of substandard DPT vaccines that were given to hundreds of thousands of babies.

Some 80 government officials were punished in the wake of the scandal and a number of top officials lost their jobs, including a vice-governor in Jilin province and the administration’s head Bi Jingquan.

There were also reports that children in Hebei and Jiangsu provinces were last year given expired vaccines.