27 June 2016
Well-Prepared for the Upcoming Flu Season
The Government announced the new
measures of the "Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Programmes in 2016/17"
last week. In addition to the current subsidized groups, children aged 6 months
to under 6 years old, persons with Intellectual Disability and all elderly aged
65 or above; the newly added groups including children aged 6 to under 12 years
old and recipients of Disability Allowance who are eligible for free or subsidized
vaccination. Also, subsidized vaccination will be offered to all pregnant women,
in order to increase the vaccination uptake rate. The Government will also increase
the subsidy for all eligible groups, from the existing $160 per dose to $190
per dose of the seasonal influenza vaccine.
The Hong Kong Medical Association
(HKMA) welcomed the new measures by responding to the requests we and the public
made. The HKMA would like to remind on the following:
- The Hong Kong Medical Association
considered receiving influenza vaccination at hospital or clinic the most
appropriate choice by the public.
- To urge the Department of Health
and related divisions on promoting the influenza vaccination services in non-clinic
settings to the public and pay close monitoring and inspection on those community
services. To investigate the cleanliness and suitability of the venue on providing
such service; whether the service provider has ensure the proper cold chain
during delivering and storage; whether there are sufficient trained healthcare
workers to provide the service; whether a registered doctor is arranged for
administration/to supervise the trained healthcare workers for service administration;
whether equipment for treating adverse drug reaction and first aid resuscitation
equipment are provided and ensure of the involvement of healthcare workers
who have received first aid training; and how the clinical waste will be handled,
- This year is the Election Year,
it is foreseeing that many political parties or related groups will offer
free group vaccination services for the public in order to get more votes.
The HKMA would like to press the Government to emphasize to the public about
the safety measures and guidelines by organizing such vaccination services,
and to request the organizers to comply with the measures.
- The Government should raise
the public education on influenza and vaccination, for instance, to include
vaccination as a measure for disease prevention in the school syllabus. More
efforts should be made on explaining to the public of the safeness of vaccines
to enhance their confidence.
- All healthcare workers from
both public and private sectors should get influenza vaccinations to protect
- The Hong Kong Medical Association
urges the Government to extend the subsidy scheme to cover persons with obesity
(BMI>30) and healthcare workers as early as possible.
- Although the subsidy amount
per dose of the seasonal influenza vaccine has been increased to $190, this
amount was insufficient to cover the cost of administering vaccines for the
public of most enrolled doctors (without taking into account the inflation
this year). Last year, about 80% of the enrolled doctors charged $50 or above
service fee on top of the $160 subsidy.
- The Government should ensure
there is sufficient supply of influenza vaccines to fulfil the demand. Indeed,
a type of nasal-spray influenza vaccine is an alternative, which is not available
in Hong Kong currently. This type of vaccine is as effective as injection.
Children aged 2 years old or above can be vaccinated and the fear of injection
can be avoided. It would be more convenient for children aged from 2 to 12
years old and uptake rate can be raised. Thus we proposed to the Government
to consider adopting this kind of vaccine.
Vaccination is still the most effective
way to protect one from influenza infection and its complications. It normally
takes about 2 weeks after vaccination for the body to develop a sufficient level
of antibodies to protect against influenza infection. The HKMA once again advise
all people, especially those fall into the priority groups and all healthcare
workers of both private and public sectors, to take flu vaccinations before
the winter flu season and maintain good personal hygiene as a protection of
oneself against influenza. The public can consult their family doctors for more
information on influenza vaccination.
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.