China / Hot Issues

Families question vaccine's safety

By Wang Qingyun in Beijing and Han Junhong in Changchun (China Daily) Updated: 2014-01-13 10:21

Health experts in Jilin province said a batch of rabies vaccine that the province used last year was safe, even though three people who were inoculated with the batch are now comatose.

The three cases comprise two boys, aged 12 and 9, and a 55-year-old woman. All had four rabies vaccinations at the center for disease control and prevention in Baishan. The vaccines were all from the same batch from Jilin Maifeng Biopharmaceutical Co.

From September to November, the three developed fever days after they each had their fourth shots before becoming comatose.

A team of experts investigating the case said the 12-year-old boy and the woman had acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, a disease possibly caused by receiving the rabies inoculation but not the result of an unsafe vaccine. The 9-year-old boy was diagnosed with herpes simplex virus encephalitis, which has nothing to do with the inoculation.

The report said the team has ruled out quality problems in the vaccine, as the drug authority had tested and approved the batch. It also ruled out malpractice during the storage, shipment and injections of the vaccine.

But family members of the three patients are not convinced, as a re-examination of the vaccine was not conducted. Only 27 doses of vaccine were left by the time the center stopped using the batch of vaccine, while a re-examination of a batch of vaccine needs 60 doses.

"How could they reach the conclusion that the vaccine is all right when they haven't conducted any tests?" asked Yin Guangsen, husband of the female patient.

The vaccine producer has loaned 750,000 yuan ($123,900) to the patients' families for treatment.

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