A three-year-old girl in China’s Jiangsu province died after receiving a rabies vaccination last month, an ominous development in light of persistent scandals over low-quality and improperly-handled vaccines.
The story has become a viral sensation on Chinese social media as the public awaits the results of an investigation.
According to the South China Morning Post’s summary, the girl’s pet dog scratched her on the finger and she received a rabies shot after her father took her to the hospital. Medical staff cautioned her father she might run a mild fever after the vaccination, but instead she developed an uncontrollable fever overnight and died the following afternoon.
The family agreed to an autopsy and also asked for the vaccine to be examined along with medical records and hospital surveillance camera footage. Guangzhou Promise Biological Products, a company with no previous record of vaccine problems, reportedly produced the vaccine.
The Chinese government has been attempting to restore public trust in the pharmaceutical industry after a series of vaccine scandals by greatly increasing the financial penalties for malpractice. The new rules would allow families to demand compensation in the event of sickness or death after immunization.
One of the recent vaccine debacles occurred in Jiangsu province at the beginning of the year when 145 children were given expired polio vaccinations. The Chinese government pledged an intensive nationwide probe to eliminate incompetence and corruption.
Parents alarmed by the case began investigating their children’s vaccination history and found the government gave them expired doses for diseases other than polio. Parents held rare public demonstrations as fears of a government cover-up grew, driven by a history of vaccine problems turning out to be much worse than Chinese officials originally admitted, combined with the government’s tendency to suppress popular discontent and suppress those who ask awkward questions.