The Ministry of Health denies substandard vaccines had caused the deaths of four children in Shanxi as reported by a newspaper. It investigated the families of 15 children reportedly sickened by the vaccines, but said only three of them suffered from adverse reactions after the immunisation. It also declared the vaccines in Shanxi and nationwide safe overall despite the findings. In a press conference yesterday in Beijing to publicise the investigation results, ministry spokesman Deng Haihua said the deaths of the four children mentioned in the report had no connection to any vaccines. He said one child died of encephalitis, one of inherited, continuous epilepsy and the two other deaths were suspected to be from a combination of encephalitis and respiratory failure. Last month, the Beijing-based China Economic Times, a newspaper affiliated with a State Council think tank, accused the Shanxi Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of exposing vaccines, which should be refrigerated, to a high-temperature environment where labels were pasted on, and transporting them in trucks with malfunctioning refrigeration systems between 2006 and 2008. The report - citing whistle-blower Chen Taoan, a former Shanxi CDC official - said the improperly stored vaccine might have led to almost 100 children's deaths or illnesses. The ministry promptly started an investigation after a public outcry of distrust of Shanxi health authorities, who declared the media report untrue after a one-day investigation. The ministry's investigation had lasted almost two weeks, Deng said, and involved 20 top doctors in different fields going through medical records of the 15 children named in the report, with personal examinations of the 11 living children and interviews with parents of the four who died. 'The cause of illness of the other 12 children is not related to vaccines,' Deng said. Asked about the core question raised by the report and many parents, over whether vaccines stored at hot temperatures would make the vaccines unsafe for administering, the ministry said it was not an issue. Feng Zijian, director of the emergency response department of the national CDC, told reporters that exposing vaccines in a high-temperature environment would make vaccines less effective but not unsafe. 'Brief exposure of the vaccines ... will not make vaccines go bad. They will not become unsafe,' Feng said. The ministry said the labelling was a violation of regulations as it was done without approval. It brushed aside media inquiries about a Beijing-based drug distribution company that was financially linked with the Shanxi CDC, saying that part of the investigation was continuing. But the parents of the sick children who had pinned their hopes on the ministry's investigation expressed disappointment and said they would not stop seeking the truth. The aunt of Lili - an 11-year-old girl in Taiyuan who had two vaccine shots, one each in October and November 2007, and started having seizures two months later - said she found the result hardly convincing. 'The doctors - I heard one of them was sent by the Ministry of Health - just talked with us and did not run any tests. They did not take Lili's medical record and left without giving any conclusion. I'm still waiting for an official result,' the aunt said. 'I just need to know if the vaccines were good or substandard. They can give me an authoritative report on that. How can they convince me there was no connection between the sickness and the vaccines?' Li Changqin, the father of a six-year-old boy, said his son was perfectly healthy until he had two vaccine shots and started vomiting five days later. 'The doctor examined my son for about five minutes and left,' Li said. 'They listened to his heart, pounded on his leg and measured his head. They said he had a big head and that's it. I can't accept that result.'