Press Release
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:

  1. The Hong Kong Medical Association considered receiving influenza vaccination at hospital or clinic the most appropriate choice by the public.
  2. 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, etc.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. All healthcare workers from both public and private sectors should get influenza vaccinations to protect themselves.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

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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