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DH response on Japanese suspension of Pfizer pneumococcal vaccine

     In response to media enquiries about Japanese Government's latest suspension of two types of publicly subsidised childhood vaccinations, an American produced Pfizer vaccine, Prevnar, for protection against Streptococcus pneumoniae or also known as pneumoncocus and another vaccine against meningitis caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), a Department of Health (DH) spokesman made the following response today (March 6):  

     The Department is aware of the news and concerned, especially because pneumococcal vaccination is in Hong Kong's childhood immunisation programme since 2009.  We will be in touch with our Japanese counterpart for details.  

     In Hong Kong, Pfizer Corporation Hong Kong Ltd (Pfizer) has registered two pneumococcal vaccines, respectively under the brand names of Prevenar which targets at seven serotypes and Prevenar 13 which targets up to 13 serotypes.

     Prevenar has been used by both public and private healthcare providers here, DH included, since the launch of the pneumococcal vaccination programme in 2009.  However, DH has replaced it with GlaxoSmithKline Ltd's Synflorix since October 2010 according to tender award result.  

     However, Prevenar is still being administered to children above two years of age in the Department's Pneumococcal Vaccination Catch-up Programme in maternal and child health centres as Synflorix is only licensed for use in clients from the age of six weeks up to two years.  The Programme is a one off arrangement and will finish by the end of this month.

     DH has already got in contact with Pfizer which will clarify the local stock situation of its two pneumococcal vaccines and their origins, besides liaising with its head office for further information on the Japanese situation.

     Meanwhile, DH has no record of untoward event report associated with Prevenar, but will inform all medical practitioners of the Japanese incident and request them to bring up any anomaly detected.

     For recipients of Prevenar, they should contact their healthcare providers if they are unsure or feel unwell.  DH will remain vigilant and investigate further into the matter.

     And for clarification, Hib vaccination is not in Hong Kong's childhood immunisation programme.

Ends/Sunday, March 6, 2011
Issued at HKT 17:34


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