Health authorities in the west may fulminate about the public’s scepticism about their pronouncements (the MMR vaccination saga, for example) but they could take comfort from the fact that the Chinese government is having an even worse time.
An article in the Boston Globe last week describes how their plans to vaccinate 100 million children against measles has unleashed a flood of public concern across the internet and social media. The Health Ministry has issued statements, rebutted rumours and held breifings galore emphasising the safety of the vaccine and the need for it. The Chinese public is not convinced…
In the same way that the authorities’ blanket denials of any possibility of harm only fuelled concerns over the MMR vaccine in the UK, Chinese government agencies’ withholding of information about SARS, bird flu and a recent outbreak of cholera , not to mention the tainted infant formula which sickened 300,000 babies two years ago, allowed rumour and panic to rule and deeply dented the agencies’ credibility.
To make it worse, four children died and many others were made seriously ill earlier this year by, it is thought, vaccines for hepatitis B and encephalitis which were improperly stored – although the government maintains that this was not the case.
Is it surprising that the Chinese public are less than enthusiastic about another mass vaccination programme?