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Sociologist backs controversial Beijing decision on flu vaccinations

2009-11-11 09:01 BJT

Special Report: World tackles A/H1N1 flu |

BEIJING, Nov.10 (Xinhua) -- A leading sociologist Tuesday voiced support for Beijing health bureau's decision to give free A/H1N1 inoculations to the city's 12 million permanent residents before migrant residents.

Professor Xia Xueluan, of the Department of Sociology, Institute of Sociology and Anthropology of Peking University, told Xinhua that he fully understood the decision because of the progressive supply of vaccines.

"The procedure of inoculation should be gradual as the vaccine supply cannot cover all people in Beijing right away," he said.

Beijing Municipal Health Bureau announced late Monday it would consider offering free inoculations against the A/H1N1 flu virus to migrant residents without hukou (registered permanent residence).

The announcement was in response to heated online discussions and public complaints about a notice issued by the bureau on Friday, which said the municipal authorities would offer free vaccines to the city's 12 million permanent residents.

The notice, which failed to mention migrants and people without hukou, came under fire on online forums and major Chinese portals.

By Tuesday, more than 3,700 web pages related to the discussion of the issue could be found on baidu.com, a major Chinese search engine.

"There are 5 million migrant residents in the city. They also have a right to be inoculated," wrote one person on the website of English-language paper China Daily, chinadaily.com.cn.

"If someone catches A/H1N1 in Beijing, it means an epidemic is imminent in the city," another person wrote on eastday.com.cn. "And there's no reason to exclude people without hukou."