Hong Kong may become a hotspot for mainland tourists hoping to access safe vaccinations after an illegal vaccine scandal was exposed in the mainland on Monday. Guides to vaccinations in Hong Kong were widely circulated online after the news broke.

Authorities in Shandong province announced on Monday that they had arrested a mother and daughter who had been running an illegal vaccine ring worth RMB 570 million (HK$681 million) since 2011. The pair bought and sold vaccines illegally for a profit and did not store the vaccines under proper conditions. According to Xinhua, the compromised vaccines had “potential side-effects and may even cause disability and death.”

The vaccines were transported to more than 24 provinces, according to local media.

vaccines mainland guide
Photo: Gov HK.

A post shared on messaging service WeChat entitled: “Protect yourself from poisonous vaccinations, a guide to take your child to Hong Kong for vaccinations,” was widely circulated as the scandal broke this week. It said that while vaccination prices do not differ greatly from the mainland, Hong Kong regulations are stricter and suggested that visitors make time for vaccines while touring Hong Kong.

The guide provided a list of steps which families could take to book an appointment at Maternal and Child Health Centres in Hong Kong. It also provided a list of locations.

Another guide entitled: “Help yourself, a do-it-yourself guide for vaccinations” also recommended Hong Kong as a convenient place for vaccinations.

The exposure of the scandal led to fears and anger over the safety of vaccines in the mainland. The earliest article describing the scandal, posted by Chinese media The Paper last Friday, has since been deleted, according to Stand News.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.