Vaccination priority explained

March 28, 2019

The Government has to ensure a stable supply of measles vaccines for people really in need amid the tight supply of vaccines, Secretary for Food & Health Prof Sophia Chan said.


At a press conference today, Prof Chan said the Food & Health Bureau conducted a special meeting with the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority, as well as some professionals to discuss the measles infection cases and the supply of vaccines in Hong Kong.


She said most of the patients had travel history during their incubation periods and most of them were discharged from hospitals.


She added the coverage of measles vaccination in Hong Kong is over 95%.


“From the past history we understand that the protection of the herd immunity of people is actually very high in Hong Kong.


“But of course, given the existing situation of the global outbreak of measles and also the supply of vaccines is also in quite a limited situation to a certain extent, I think it is very important for the Government to ensure that there is a stable supply of vaccines for people who really need it, and by that I mean that people who do not have any immunity.”


Prof Chan said she has written to two vaccine suppliers urging them to provide the city with as many as doses as possible.


She said the Government will tackle measles through a three-pronged approach.


The Government will strengthen the control measures at the airport with the Airport Authority and remind members of the public to maintain good personal hygiene.


It will also implement a pilot scheme to provide blood testing service.


Staring tomorrow, the Centre for Health Protection will carry out blood tests for 100 people working at the airport to see which groups of people are immune to the measles virus.


The move will help authorities work out a better vaccination plan, Prof Chan said.


“The blood test would give us very good information, client-specific information about the zero prevalence of people, so therefore we would be able to tell and also to inform (the public) our strategy in the coming weeks as to how best to provide the vaccine to people.”


As of 5pm today, 4,212 people received measles shots at the vaccination station at the airport.


While giving priority for vaccination to immunocompromised people at the station, the centre may consider carrying out blood tests for people before providing vaccinations to determine whether they need a jab.


The latest case of measles infection is a 17-year-old boy who is visiting the city from the Philippines, bringing the total to 31 so far this year.


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