China says it won’t charge people for coronavirus shots – National

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China will provide COVID-19 vaccines free of charge once they are available to the general public, government officials said on Saturday.
National Health Commission official Zheng Zhongwei said that while there is a cost to manufacturing and transporting vaccines, the government can provide vaccines for free to individuals.

“Our people don’t have to pay a single penny for the vaccine,” Zheng said at a press event in Beijing.

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China approved its first vaccine for the general public at the end of December. Three vaccines had previously been given to limited groups at high risk of infection, including medical workers, as part of an emergency use program.

The country expanded the immunization schedule in mid-December to more key groups such as food and public transport workers, in an effort to stem a resurgence in winter and spring.

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These vaccinations are also free for individuals, said Zeng Yixin, head of the National Health Commission.

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“We found out that some local governments charged individuals a fee, we… demanded immediate rectification,” Zeng said at the briefing, adding that local governments have since implemented the free vaccination policy properly.

China has administered more than 9 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Zeng said. Of this total, more than 7 million have been administered since mid-December.

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Nearly 140,000 people in Hebei province have taken doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, said Cui Gang, an official with the National Health Commission, which is part of China’s vaccination program targeting specific groups at high risk of disease. ‘infection.

The provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, has become a new hotbed of transmission. Local authorities have suspended public transport across the city in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

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“At present, Hebei Province should accelerate progress as soon as possible and complete the vaccination of key groups as soon as possible,” Cui said.

(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian, ​​Roxanne Liu and Martin Pollard in Beijing; Writing by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Richard Pullin)

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