Hepatitis vaccine turns out a killer
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-06-27 05:30

Three health workers have been detained after a Hepatitis A vaccination programme killed one pupil and made 120 others ill.

Last night 20 of them were still very poorly in hospital. There is said to be a shortage of effective medicine to treat them with.


Pupils sickened after receiving unauthorized hepatitis A vaccine are still hospitalized for treatment in Sixian cunty, Anhui Province June 20, 2005. [newsphoto]
The tragedy unfolded in Sixian County in East China's Anhui Province.

Village doctors vaccinated about 2,500 students in 19 schools in 17 villages on June 16 and 17, a move without official permission, according to local police.

The Dazhuang Township Health Care Epidemic Prevention Station purchased 1,000 Hepatitis A vaccines from the county Epidemic Prevention Centre and 3,000 vaccines from a private medicine provider Zhang Peng, who has since disappeared.

Local police are still hunting for Zhang, and tracing other vaccines.

The three detained workers were Zhou Shimin, director of Dazhuang Township Hospital, Hou Huafeng, head of Dazhuang Township Health Care and Epidemic Prevention Station, and Zhou Shikai, a health worker who allegedly purchased the vaccines.

Li Wei, a six-year-old student in Shuiliu Primary School in Dazhuang Town, was vaccinated on June 17 and died a few days later after suffering from a serious infection and breathing problems.

The county government has offered 90,000 yuan in compensation (US$ 10,800) to Li's family.

Local hospitals received 120 sick students.

Several students reported dizziness, breathing difficulties and limb numbness on June 17.

"Soon after receiving the vaccine, my granddaughter felt numb in her hands and feet and couldn't stand up straight," recalled Hu Juren, who works at Shuiliu Primary School. "As more and more students showed similar symptoms, we realized something had gone wrong and called the hospital."

Pan Longgen, a paediatrician at Sixian County Hospital, said the students' hearts and livers are damaged, and the damage caused is worse than if they had drunk pesticide.

The rest of the vaccines have been sealed, and samples sent for tests.


(China Daily 06/27/2005 page3)