Press Release
12 February 2014

Influenza Vaccination

12 February 2014

Hong Kong has entered another peak flu season. From 3 January to 7 February 2014, there were 112 cases of influenza-associated ICU admission or death, among there 39 were fatal. Although the Government has put efforts in encouraging and subsidizing people at high-risk groups to receive influenza vaccine, the uptake rate remains suboptimal. Last year, there were only 14% of the population vaccinated. This fell short of the ideal threshold for herd immunity.

During today's press conference, Dr. TSE Hung Hing, HKMA President, and Dr. Alvin YS CHAN, HKMA Vice-President cum Chairman of the Task Force on Vaccination PPI had read out an open letter to The Hon Mr. John TSANG Chun Wah, GBM, JP, Financial Secretary, on preventive medicine budgeting for his consideration. The suggestions included:

  1. Broadening the scope of coverage of influenza vaccination subsidy to cover all high-risk groups, including healthcare workers, obese individuals, pregnant women, patients with compromised immune defense, chronic respiratory illness, people over 50 years of age, and poultry or bird farmers to have influenza vaccinations. The estimated cost would be about $191,161,000, no. of beneficiary would be about 1,064,500.
  2. Increasing the influenza vaccination subsidy amount. The recent vaccine development is the use of a new quadrivalent influenza vaccine (QIV), compared with the traditional triple-valent influenza vaccine (TIV), would increase the efficacy of preventing the right strain of influenza virus causing the epidemic. With the anticipation of adoption of new vaccine in Hong Kong in the coming future, we expect the cost of vaccine to be increased. Suggested to increase the subsidy amount from $130 to $180 per vaccine.
  3. Raising awareness of the vaccination campaign.
  4. Expanding the vaccination subsidy schemes to cover other safe and effective vaccines against preventable diseases. As advised by WHO, there are other safe and effective vaccines that offer protection against infectious diseases, such as HPV-related cervical cancer, Hepatitis A, chickenpox and infection caused by rotavirus. We recommend the government to include HPV, chickenpox and rotavirus vaccinations in the subsidy schemes. It is not required a 100% coverage in the population for these vaccinations, but if such immunization can be encouraged and subsidized, public health will be adequately protected.

Free vaccinations were offered to overweight students and healthcare professionals on spot. The Hong Kong Medical Association advice the public, especially those fall into the high-risk groups, to get influenza vaccinated and maintain good personal hygiene. To protect oneself, family and the community against influenza.

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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.

 

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