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China probes after vaccine suspected in seven deaths

BEIJING--Chinese health authorities are investigating after seven infants died following inoculation with a hepatitis B vaccine, state media reported on Monday.

China has been beset by a series of product safety scandals over the past few years.

At least six children died in 2008 after drinking milk contaminated by the industrial chemical melamine, and there have also been reports of children dying or becoming seriously ill from faulty encephalitis, hepatitis B and rabies vaccines.

State news agency Xinhua said that of the seven deaths from the hepatitis B vaccine in the latest case, four were in the southern province of Guangdong. The other cases were in the provinces of Hunan and Sichuan.

The official China Daily said that all hospitals using the vaccine, made by Shenzhen-based BioKangtai, had been ordered to take it off their shelves while the Health Ministry investigates the company's products and the deaths.

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