Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
Influenza vaccination urged for target groups

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (December 13)called on the public to keep vigilant against influenza and advised high risk target groups and eligible persons to receive influenza vaccinations to protect their health.

     The CHP has been monitoring the latest influenza surveillance report of the Health Protection Agency of the United Kingdom (UK) about increasing influenza activity across the UK. Several outbreaks including severe, hospitalised cases have been reported and consultation rates for acute bronchitis and pneumonia have slightly increased. The main influenza strains currently circulating in the UK include both human swine influenza (HSI) and seasonal influenza B viruses.

     The spokesman for CHP said that, in Hong Kong, the latest surveillance data shows that the overall influenza activity remains at the baseline level.  Traditionally, the winter influenza season in Hong Kong tends to arrive between January and March. The Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases of the CHP recommends the following nine target groups for influenza vaccination in Hong Kong:

* Elderly persons living in residential care homes;
* Long-stay residents of institutions for the disabled;
* Elderly persons aged 65 years or above;
* Persons with chronic illnesses;
* Children between the age of 6 months and less than 6 years;
* All pregnant women;
* Health care workers;
* Poultry workers or staff who may be involved in the poultry culling operations; and
* Pig farmers.

     The above target groups are advised to receive vaccinations before the arrival of the influenza seasonal peak to protect their health.

     Persons with chronic diseases are particularly prone to influenza complications. These patients include those who have chronic cardiovascular (except hypertension without complication), pulmonary, metabolic or renal disease, who are immunocompromised, children and adolescents (aged six months to 18 years) on long-term aspirin therapy, and those with chronic neurological condition that can compromise respiratory function or the handling of respiratory secretions or that can increase the risk of aspiration or those who lack the ability to care for themselves.

     The Government launched the 2010/11 seasonal influenza vaccination programme on November 1. Free seasonal influenza vaccination is provided for certain target groups at public clinics and hospitals under the Government Vaccination Programme.

     In addition, the Government provides subsidies for eligible children and elderly to receive influenza vaccination under the Childhood Influenza Vaccination Subsidy Scheme  and Elderly Vaccination Subsidy Scheme respectively.  

     As at December 12, more than 254,000 doses of seasonal influenza vaccines are administered to specified target groups under the above programme and schemes.

     The spokesman said that the 2010/11 seasonal influenza vaccine, as recommended by the World Health Organization, contained vaccine components against three influenza subtypes, namely A(H1N1) (equivalent to HSI), A(H3N2) and B.

     "The currently circulating influenza viruses in Hong Kong are antigenically similar to this year's vaccine viruses. The vaccine would be able to provide protection against influenza infection," he said.

     "The CHP will continue to closely monitor the local and global situation."

     The public are advised to stay vigilant against flu. They should maintain good personal and environmental hygiene habits, including washing hands frequently, particularly after sneezing or coughing; maintaining good indoor ventilation; building up good body immunity by having a balanced diet, regular exercise and adequate rest, and avoiding smoking.

Ends/Monday, December 13, 2010
Issued at HKT 19:06


Print this page