Shenzhen has been hit by a critical nationwide shortage of some category 1 vaccines, which are provided free of charge by the government, according to a CCTV report.
The Shenzhen Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the city was experiencing a severe shortage of DPT (diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus) vaccines, which have fallen 175,000 doses short of demand.
In Shenzhen, supplies for other category 1 vaccines also couldn’t meet the demand, including those for leprosy and MMR (measles-mumps-rubella).
The human papillomavirus vaccine that can reduce the risk of cervical cancer is also in severe short supply.
According to the city’s disease control and prevention center, Shenzhen needs about 100,000 DPT vaccines per month. From May to July, the demand was about 200,000 doses, but only 25,000 DPT vaccines had been delivered by the provincial disease control and prevention authority.
The city’s vaccines for MMR and Japanese encephalitis also fell 50,000 and 70,000 doses short of demand, respectively, said the city’s disease control and prevention center.
The center explained that the shortages are due to demand outstripping supply. As category 1 vaccines are procured and distributed by the provincial authority, residents will have to wait for them to restock or opt for alternative vaccines.
Huang Qi, a researcher with Shenzhen Flying Tiger Investment Management Co. Ltd., said the country has been implementing strict controls over vaccine production since a vaccine scandal broke out last year, which has resulted in many small firms being unable to produce at normal levels.
Huang said the short-term vaccine shortage will improve as the supply gradually picks up to meet demand.
On June 29, China’s top legislature passed a law on vaccine administration that stipulates the “strictest” management by requiring a supervision system over the entire process and toughening penalties for producing and selling fake or substandard vaccines.
As the country’s first legislation dedicated to vaccine management, the new law will come into force Dec. 1, 2019.
According to the law, the supervision of vaccines will cover the entire process, from the vaccine’s development to production, distribution and vaccination. All information on the vaccines will be trackable.
The maximum penalty for producing and selling fake vaccines will increase from 30 times the corresponding value of the goods to 50 times, while the maximum penalty for substandard vaccines will increase from 20 times to 30 times, according to the new legislation.