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January 10, 2014

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

City unaffected by vaccine scare

There has been no significant scare in Shanghai over hepatitis B vaccination following fatalities linked with the vaccine but reports from elsewhere in the country point differently.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission monitored 10 provinces and reported a 30 percent drop in hepatitis B vaccination, and a 15 percent drop for other shots in December.

At least 17 infant deaths have been reported since November, raising fears of the vaccine in the country. Food and drug regulators launched an investigation and ordered the country’s three biggest hepatitis B vaccine makers to suspend production.

Investigations showed that vaccines were not associated with nine of the infant deaths.

Experts have voiced concerns, saying a further drop in numbers could lead to a surge in the infection rate.

Sun Xiaodong, director of Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccination department, said yesterday that there has been no noticeable drop in the rate of hepatitis B vaccinations.

Hepatitis B is the first vaccine given within 24 hours after the birth of a child to cut mother-to-baby infection.

Two other shots are given when the baby is one month and six months old at local health centers.

Most neighborhood health centers offer free shots of vaccines made domestically. But some imported vaccines cost more than 50 yuan (US$8.26) per shot.

Sun said hepatitis B vaccine is generally safe with a very low rate of adverse reaction.

Shanghai uses about 660,000 doses of hepatitis B vaccination on average every year with only 300 to 500 cases of adverse reaction.

Rare adverse reaction

About 90 percent of adverse cases reported are fever and swelling at the injected spot. Few cases are about allergic rash and rapid swelling of dermis.

Allergic cases are extremely rare in Shanghai with no reports in the last three years. The incidence of allergy is 1.1 for every 1 million doses, according to the World Health Organization.

Hepatitis B virus can spread through blood or sex and passed on from mother to infant.

The spread of the disease from mother-to-infant has been a major cause of concern and the early vaccination has helped in fighting the disease. “Parents shouldn’t panic,” Sun said. “If they shun vaccination, the rate of infection could rise.”

China, which has the largest number of hepatitis B patients and virus carriers, has managed to cut the infection rate, especially among children.

Shanghai was the first to introduce the vaccine in the 1990s. It offered free shots to all newborn infants from 2002. People below 18 years old were given shots from 2008. China started to promote the vaccine in 2005, which brought down the virus carriers by 30 million.



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