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Controversy Arises from TB Vaccination

Two students in Central China's Hunan Province have contracted tuberculosis (TB) after being vaccinated against the disease, sparking fear among hundreds of parents.


But local health authorities insisted there is no evidence to prove that the students' condition has any direct links with the vaccination.


The incident was traced back to 1999 and 2001 when more than 2,000 primary and middle school students in Gaoping Township of Longhui County received TB vaccines.


Among the students, Yuan Longping and Wang Haiyan were diagnosed with TB late last year, said Yang Jian, head of the county's Epidemic Prevention Station.


The two cases concerned local parents and led many of them to worry about the safety of the vaccinations conducted between 1999 and 2001.


Some parents said their children had running sores around the injection and usually suffered from fevers, dizziness and sweating during sleep, the Guangdong-based newspaper New Express reported yesterday.


The health authorities in Longhui County have sent an investigation team to the township and organized X-rays for the local students from August 13, said Yang.


He said health workers have investigated around 1,000 local students who were vaccinated and found nine of them had large scars left on their arms, which means they have ever suffered suppuration after receiving the vaccinations.


The major reason is that doctors made the injections too deeply into the students' skin, he explained.


Yang said 21 students of around 500 X-ray examinees were found having pathological changes such as thick veins and shadows on their lungs.


"But we cannot judge immediately that the students are suffering TB because catching a cold can also lead to similar symptoms," Yang emphasized.


He said if any person was diagnosed as contracting TB, they can receive free treatment.


"Having a TB vaccine cannot cause TB, and the vaccine cannot prevent TB one hundred percent. But many people here do not have a full understanding of this," said Yang.


The New Express reported that a total of eight students in Gaoping Township, accompanied by their parents, came to Guangzhou for lung examinations.


Many other parents from the township also took their children to hospitals in Yunnan, Hubei and Sichuan provinces, says the report.


(China Daily August 17, 2004)


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