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LCQ9: Varicella vaccines

     Following is a question by the Hon Albert Ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (March 26):


     It has been reported that the number of notified cases of varicella in Hong Kong has been on the high side in recent years, and due to a persistent shortage of varicella vaccines, quite a number of parents need to wait for a long time before they can arrange for their children to be vaccinated in private clinics. Meanwhile, the Department of Health has planned to include varicella vaccines in the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it has contacted private clinics to understand the situation of shortage in supply of varicella vaccines; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) of the exact date on which the authorities will launch the varicella vaccination programme; what measures the authorities will take to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines at the commencement of the programme; and

(3) of the anticipated quantity of varicella vaccines to be purchased by the authorities in 2014-2015, and the amount of expenditure involved?



(1) There are five varicella vaccines currently registered in Hong Kong. Two of them are combined vaccines which also provide protection against measles, mumps and rubella; the other three are vaccines which prevent varicella (chickenpox) only. Of the three varicella-specific vaccines, one has ceased production worldwide and another experienced a temporary shortage of supply at an earlier juncture. Due to an increasing global demand for varicella vaccines in recent years while supply is limited, pharmaceutical manufacturers may not be able to meet the market demand in full on a timely basis.

     The Department of Health (DH) has been monitoring the supply of varicella vaccines and maintaining close communication with local suppliers and doctors' associations.  

(2) The DH has decided to incorporate varicella vaccine into the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme (HKCIP) upon the recommendation of the Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases under the Centre for Health Protection. It is now carrying out preparatory work. Implementation details of the programme will be announced within this year.

     The relevant suppliers of varicella vaccines have pledged to secure a sufficient supply of vaccines for Hong Kong. To ensure an adequate supply of varicella vaccine after it has been incorporated into the HKCIP, the DH will enter into a contract with the vaccine supplier and include the appropriate clauses and requirements therein.

(3) The DH has drawn reference to the number of registered newborns in determining the quantity of varicella vaccines to be procured. According to the number of births in 2013, an estimated provision of $9.2 million has been made for the procurement of varicella vaccines in 2014-15.

Ends/Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Issued at HKT 14:50


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