China Blames Greedy Nurse for Dozens of Fraudulent Child Vaccinations

A child receives a vaccination shot at a hospital in Rongan in China's southern Guangxi region on July 23, 2018.
AFP/Getty Images

The Chinese government announced on Sunday that 29 children in the northern city of Shijazhuang were given incorrect vaccines by a nurse who was working for “personal gain.”

According to China’s state-run Global Times, police have detained the nurse and suspended the business license of the community health center where she administered the vaccines. Authorities also removed two local health officials from their posts.

The vaccine incorrectly administered to the children reportedly costed 100 yuan per dose, while the correct vaccine costs 600 yuan per dose. The Global Times report implied the nurse was pocketing the difference.

Local authorities promised the children will be given the correct vaccine and reassured parents the injection they were given was not harmful. The Global Times nevertheless anticipated an angry response from parents fed up with endless medical scandals by reminding its readers that a large number of people have been sacked, arrested, or both for their roles in the granddaddy of modern vaccine outrages:

The case is the latest vaccine issue which has sparked public concern in China since the Changchun Changsheng incident.

Changsheng Biotechnology, a major Chinese vaccine maker, reportedly produced substandard human rabies vaccine and fake production records in July 2018.

The Changchun incident revealed management loopholes and a system defect in vaccine production and distribution in China, which led to the drafting of a vaccine management law. The draft has been released for public opinion in January.

More than 80 officials were removed or charged for the Changchun incident, the China Central Television reported on Saturday.

Public frustration with vaccine fraud, and the inability of the country’s gigantic authoritarian government to detect or prevent it, has grown intense enough to spark unusually defiant public protests.

The Changsheng Biotechnology cleanup referenced by the Global Times involved the prosecution of four officials from the China Food and Drug Administration, including one deputy director. Over a dozen lesser officials were arrested along with 14 employees of the biotech company and its chairwoman, Gao Junfang.

As is usually the case with such announcements, the exact identities of the offending officials, their alleged crimes, and the punishments they will receive were not detailed to the public.

The South China Morning Post reported that, in the Shijazhuang case, local officials initially said only a single child was given an incorrect vaccine by accident. After a parent complained, reporters dug into the clinic’s records and discovered 44 injections of the correct pentavalent vaccine were listed in the books, but the clinic only had 26 doses available. The cheaper injection given to the affected children reportedly offered no protection against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, or hepatitis B.

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