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Beijing starting meningitis vaccination
By Cao Desheng in Beijing,Liang Qiwen in Guangzhou and Bao Xinyan in Nanjing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-03 01:53

Beijing's health departments yesterday started to vaccinate local residents to guard against the outbreaks of meningitis that are spreading in parts of the country.

A school boy holds a brochure promoting vaccination against infectious diseases at the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control yesterday. [newsphoto]
A total of 300,000 vaccines were available for injection for the most vulnerable people, an official from the Beijing Centre for Disease Prevention and Control at a press conference yesterday.

Priority will be given to migrant workers and their children since they are expected to go home to areas where there have been outbreaks, over the lunar New Year holidays, said Sun Meiping, director of the centre's Institute of Immunity and Prevention.

From yesterday afternoon, Sun's centre started three-day vaccinations targeting school-age children and adults below the age of 40 among the migrant workers in the capital city.

Some of the hospitals in the city and its suburbs will also offer vaccine injections starting from today, according to Sun.

Hundreds of local people rushed their children to Sun's centre to get vaccinated after 16 deaths from the disease were reported by the local media. A total of 258 meningitis cases have been found in China.

A World Health Organization official said on Tuesday the meningitis outbreak appeared to be routine and the fact that the number of cases was slightly higher this year could be due to improved surveillance in China.

There were no signs China was concealing information, WHO's spokesman Roy Wadia was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Vaccine supplies for the meningitis outbreaks will be adequate to meet demand, an official from the China National Biotec Corporation in Lanzhou of Gansu Province in Northwest China told Xinhua.

The corporation is the only manufacturer of the vaccine for the group A+C bacteria of meningitis in China, which produces 350,000 to 400,000 units per day.

Besides Beijing, health depart-ments from other regions are also working to prevent outbreaks.

Fifteen cases of the disease have been found in the province, according to the Jiangsu Centre for Diseases Prevention and Control.

In Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province, 11 people have contracted meningitis with two of them having died, according to the Guangdong Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

(China Daily 02/03/2005 page2)

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