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Parents concerned over vaccine safety
By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-08-25 05:57

Safety concerns have become the biggest obstacle for urban parents who wish to get their children inoculated against influenza.

According to survey results released yesterday, 26 per cent of parents chose not to have their children inoculated, saying they are worried about vaccine's reliability.

Concerns about the necessity and convenience of the flu vaccine also topped a list of reasons concerning them.

"There have been many negative reports about inoculation safety recently," Yi Qing, market director of French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, said yesterday.

In June, a school pupil in East China's Anhui Province died after receiving an inoculation against Hepatitis A. Around 200 others were also taken ill after unqualified doctors inoculated them.

"But it's necessary for kids between 6 to 23 months old, adults 65 years old or above, and individuals suffering from chronic diseases to get the flu vaccination," Tang Yaowu, director of the Beijing Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said yesterday.

He said flu could cause pneumonia and other complications.

In China, the inoculation rate against flu is only about 1 per cent, compared with more than 20 per cent in the United States.

Even in Beijing, the rate in the inner city and immediate suburbs stands at 8.8 per cent, while only 2 per cent of the population in the capital's far-flung outskirts received the shot.

"Citizens in the capital should have confidence in vaccination safety," said Wang Quanyi, a researcher with the Beijing Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccine quality is assured, Wang said, adding that the inoculation procedure is also safe, as all the personnel involved have received training and are quaified.

But experts warned that individuals allergic to eggs, patients developing a fever and other sensitive people should not receive the shot.

Apart from safety issues, vaccines against flu are yet to reach the vast population in rural areas because of its soaring prices.

According to Yi, one dose of flu vaccine for an adult cost about 70 yuan (US$ 8.6), with the price of the child dose set a little higher.

The government does not provide any subsidies for the flu jab, as the inoculation is not compulsory.

Last year, around 13 million individuals in China received flu vaccinations, with half of the vaccines provided by foreign companies. The same number of individuals is estimated to receive the inoculation this year as the inoculation season is drawing near.

The Chinese Association of Health Education and Sanofi Pasteur, the French vaccine provider, jointly conducted the survey between April and June among 2,160 residents in seven cities.

(China Daily 08/25/2005 page3)

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