BEIJING — China's plans to vaccinate 100 million children and come a step closer to eradicating measles has set off a popular outcry that highlights widening public distrust of the authoritarian government after repeated health scandals.
Since the Health Ministry announced the World Health Organization-backed measles vaccination plan last week, authorities have been flooded with queries and Internet bulletin boards have been plastered with worried messages. Conspiracy theories saying the vaccines are dangerous have spread by cell phone text messages.
The public skepticism has even been covered by state-run media, which noted the lack of trust was about more than vaccines.
"Behind the public's panic over the rumors is an expression of the citizens' demands for security and a crisis in confidence," a columnist wrote in the Chongqing Daily newspaper.
"The lack of trust toward our food and health products was not formed in one day," said the Global Times newspaper. "Repairing the damage and building credibility will take a very long time. The public health departments need to take immediate action on all fronts."