New vaccine law: Toughest regulations to date kicks off
By Guan Yang
Effective today, China's new vaccine administration law goes into effect, which requires stricter management of vaccine production, research and distribution. CGTN has more from Changchun, in China's Jilin Province, where a vaccine scandal last year shocked the world's most populous country.
A rusty gate with no employees inside. This is what China's former vaccine king now looks like. The notorious safety scandal at Changchun Changsheng biotechnology last year sparked a huge, national public outcry. After China was hit by a string of vaccine safety scandals in recent years, a new law on vaccine management is taking effect.
The new vaccine administrative law not only strengthens supervision over the vaccine industry but also toughens penalties both on the production and sale of fake or substandard vaccines. The bottom line, to restore public confidence.
"Since the scandal, we've lost our faith in domestic vaccines and turned to foreign-made ones," said Gao Yuying, a grandmother of a one-month old baby from Changchun. "I remember feeling relieved since my son didn't receive any of those faulty vaccines. With this new law being implemented, I'm much more less worried about domestic vaccines," Li Xingfei, mother of a five-year old told CGTN.
One of the highlights of the new law: An electronic information system will be set up to make sure all information about vaccines can be tracked. It will monitor production and packaging information, the vaccination's validity, the date it was made, and the identities of the medical workers and recipients. The records must be retained for at least five years.
Yang Dan, an immunization supervisor from Fuao Community Hospital in Changchun shared her thoughts with CGTN: "My experience tells me that what concerned parents most was whether or not their children received the valid vaccines they were supposed to receive. The electronic tracking system can greatly help in improving transparency and accountability during vaccination."
Besides forged data and fraudulent labeling, the Chanagchun Changsheng case also exposed bribery-related issues in China's vaccine market. Money was paid "under the table" to individuals responsible for buying vaccines, like those working in hospitals or disease control departments. The new law aims to fix those problems.
"Many scandals in the past involved corruption, especially during the purchasing process. The new law clarifies that vaccines both covered and uncovered by the national immunization programs can only be purchased through public trading platforms at the provincial level. In other words, transparency is vital for procurement," Fan Ming, the deputy inspector from Jilin provincial health commission told CGTN.
Out of all the lessons the public has learned, perhaps the most important one is that vaccine safety is vital to people's lives, especially children, a red line that should never be crossed.