China asks officials to halt mandatory COVID vaccination

BEIJING: China’s central health officials have asked their provincial counterparts to halt mandatory vaccination orders as some cities were reportedly found to adopt compulsory measures to meet the country’s goal of vaccinating 560 million people by June.

China is taking an approach of “getting the people who need it vaccinated and pushing forward vaccination in stages,” and as of Saturday, the country had administered 164.

47 million jabs, making it the second-fastest country in the world in terms of mass vaccination, Wu Liangyou, deputy head of the National Health Commission’s (NHC) disease control bureau told media on Sunday, the state-run Global Times reported.

NHC spokesperson Mi Feng said, “Some places adopted inappropriate measures, including a ‘one-size-fits-all’ or ‘compulsory for all’ approach, which needs to be corrected.”

Wu said in order to push forward the mass vaccination campaign, some places have not taken appropriate measures, though the situation is not widespread, and this reflects a lack of organisation and management.

In the latest case, officials from the township of Wancheng in South China’s Hainan Province revoked a controversial COVID-19 vaccine inoculation notice which claimed that people who are not vaccinated would be banned from public transport and entering public venues such as restaurants and supermarkets.

“We sincerely apologise for the improper way that we mobilised vaccination,” the local government said in a statement.

China has so far granted emergency nod for five vaccines but none of them have been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

On Sunday, Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention director Gao Fu stirred a controversy after he calling for mixing of the vaccines to improve their efficacy.

“The protection rates of all vaccines in the world are sometimes high, and sometimes low. How to improve their efficacy is a question that needs to be considered by scientists around the world,” Gao said.

“In this regard, adjusting the vaccination process in terms of the number of doses and intervals and considering sequential inoculation of different types of vaccines might be possible options,” he said.