More than 2 billion doses of vaccines have been dispensed since the start of China’s large-scale anti-coronavirus vaccination campaign, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday. China has been working hard to reduce the incidence of severe COVID-19 cases by vaccinating people all over the country. It has been very effective, but in some places, it has created controversy.
The Chinese government has put more money and effort into the vaccination program since July, as China has been plagued by outbreaks of the Delta variant. After a few weeks of dealing with a lot of cases, health officials have brought the outbreak under control. Speaking at a health conference last Friday, China’s top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan said the country is planning to fully vaccinate 80% of its population by the end of 2021.
Across the country, an increasingly larger number of localities have prohibited unvaccinated people from accessing public services. In Chongqing, local governments announced that those who refused to be vaccinated would have a negative impact on their social credit. Qinghai province issued a warning to all its residents to get vaccinated, or they will have suspended their pension, medical insurance, and welfare benefits if they refuse. Moreover, these benefits will also be taken if someone in their close family is not vaccinated.
Many Chinese internet users have responded angrily to the new regulations and have accused local authorities of going against the central government’s vaccination policies, making vaccines no longer voluntary. According to Yanzhong Huang from the Council on Foreign Relations, there is often a considerable gap between central government policy and local implementation: “Failure to fulfill these targets will lead to penalization, creating this incentive for local government officials to undertake heavy-handed measures to get things done.