21 November 2013
The general public in Hong Kong, especially adult population, often neglects the importance of effective vaccination, which results in a consistently low vaccination uptake rate. Adult perceives vaccination to be more suitable for those who are with poor resistance to diseases, such as children and the elderly. Effective vaccination is indeed an important measure to protect one against serious and fatal diseases, it helps to reduce the chance to fall ill, which in turn to reduce the effect on the economy and burden on medical resources. The Hong Kong Medical Association has launched the "New Era in Adult Vaccination" during today's press conference. According to Dr. Alvin YS CHAN, Vice-President and Chairman of the HKMA Task Force on Vaccination PPI, there are many effective vaccines, not only for children and the elderly but also for adults in protecting individuals from serious and deadly diseases including vaccines that target 4 commonly found adult diseases, namely HPV (Human Papillomavirus), Herpes Zoster, Streptococcus Pneumoniae and Hepatitis A. The HKMA aimed at enhancing the citizens' knowledge on the vaccinations of these diseases, so that they can safeguard themselves, their families and the community as a whole with more comprehensive and effective protection.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 100 types. Around 40 of these viruses infect the genital areas of people. Most of the affected people will not have any symptoms and will clear the infection on their own. However, some of these viruses are grouped as "high-risk" types and may lead to cancer of the cervix. Other named "low-risk" types may cause genital warts1. Women have 2 peak periods of infection: aged 26-30 and 46-50. Hong Kong has the highest incidence rate among Asian women. There were 151 women died due to cervical cancer in 2011; 1 person died every 3 days in average. At present the protection rate for HPV vaccine against cervical cancer is 70%.
Herpes Zoster (commonly known as Shingles) is a viral disease caused by Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV). Anyone who has ever had Chickenpox can develop Shingles. Chickenpox has resolved the virus is never eliminated from the body. The VZV becomes dormant in the nerve cells when the immune system is weakened to cause the outbreak of Shingles. About one third of the people will develop Shingles in their lifetime and will return. Patients usually suffer from intensive pain. The risk of infection will be vastly increased after aged 50. The protection rate for Herpes Zoster vaccine is about 70%.
Streptococcus Pneumoniae is a type of bacteria that will lead to pneumococcal infection. When being infected, one may present cough, fever, and more serious diseases such as nasosinusitis, middle ear infection (acute otitis media), pneumonia and even meningitis. Whenever the immune system is lower (e.g. flu infected), one may easier being infected by streptococcus pneumonia. In 2013, pneumonia has become the 2nd killer in Hong Kong which caused 6,960 losing their lives. The high risk groups include young children, elderly and people over 50 years old. The protection rate for Pneumococcal vaccine is 80%.
Hepatitis A is one type of viral hepatitis which caused by Hepatitis A virus. Most of the patients are infected by contaminated foods. Main symptoms include nausea, diarrhea and jaundice, there is no specific medicines to cure infection of Hepatitis A. Acute Hepatitis A can be fatal. Most of the adults aged below 30 are not immunized against Hepatitis A, the outbreak can be serious. People who travel to places with disgusting hygiene should pay attention to food intake. The travelers are advised to have Hepatitis A vaccination before their tours. The protection rate of Hepatitis A vaccine is over 90%.
Getting immunization of these vaccines is longlife, which can provide sufficient protection and help to increase the community immunity. We can protect the public better if the government would study the cost-effectiveness of protecting the target groups of citizens and include such important vaccines, safe and effective, to the "Vaccine Subsidy Scheme" for adults and the elderly. The public can keep watch on the MTR trackside panels and primary care doctors' clinics of the Campaign's poster. The Campaign's video has been uploaded to the HKMA website (www.hkma.org) for the public's further details. For more information about the abovementioned vaccine-preventable diseases, please consult your family doctor.
Note: 1: http://www.cervicalscreening.gov.hk/english/cc/cc_what.html
Notes to editors:
The Hong Kong Medical Association, founded in 1920, aims to bring together Hong Kong's government, institutional, university and private medical practitioners for an effective exchange of views and co-ordination of efforts. The foremost objective of the Association is to safeguard and promote public health. The Association speaks collectively for its members and aims to keep its members abreast of medical ethics, issues and advances around the world. In fulfilling these goals, the association hopes to better serve the people of Hong Kong.