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Hospital Authority commences influenza vaccination programme
The following is issued on behalf of the Hospital Authority:

     Public hospitals and out-patient clinics of the Hospital Authority (HA) will start providing seasonal influenza vaccination in phases to eligible persons from tomorrow (October 6) to dovetail with the Government Vaccination Programme 2022/23.

     The seasonal influenza vaccination programme this year will be carried out in three phases. In the first phase, the HA will provide influenza vaccination to eligible patients of public hospitals and out-patient clinics (see Annex 1). Eligible patients may visit the public hospitals and specialist out-patient clinics (SOPCs) and general out-patient clinics (GOPCs) under the HA for seasonal influenza vaccination.

     Eligible patients with regular follow-up at SOPCs and GOPCs are advised to receive vaccination at the time of their scheduled follow-up appointments after the commencement of the programme. Patients whose follow-up appointment dates fall outside the vaccination period can visit or contact the respective clinics for necessary arrangements.

     The second phase will commence on October 24 to cover the vaccination of community elderly people aged 65 or above at GOPCs (see Annex 2). Poultry workers, pig farmers and people who are involved in poultry culling operations or the pig-slaughtering industry, as referred by relevant government departments, can also receive seasonal influenza vaccination in selected GOPCs under the third phase of the programme starting from October 31.

     According to the suggestions made by the Centre for Health Protection, COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same time with other vaccines, including seasonal influenza vaccines. GOPCs will provide both COVID-19 and influenza vaccination for eligible groups while medical staff will offer advice based on their vaccination records.

     The Chief Infection Control Officer of the HA, Dr Raymond Lai, appealed to members of the public to receive early vaccination to enhance immunity against influenza. He said, "The local seasonal influenza activity has been staying at low levels since February 2020 and hence the population immune response level against influenza is low. We are concerned that the risk of influenza transmission may increase this winter, leading to potential co-circulation of influenza and COVID-19, with additional burdens on vulnerable populations and health systems. Foreign studies have shown that co-infection of COVID-19 and influenza increases morbidity and mortality. Members of the public are hence suggested to be vaccinated against influenza at their earliest convenience. Those who have not yet completed COVID-19 vaccination should also be vaccinated as early as possible."

     The seasonal vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines are safe and reliable. Protection through seasonal influenza vaccination will develop in about two to four weeks after inoculation and last for at least six months. It is usually well tolerated apart from occasional soreness or swelling at the injection site. Some people may have fever, muscle and joint pain, and tiredness after vaccination. The signs will usually subside in one or two days. Anyone with influenza symptoms, fever or severe illness should defer vaccination until they have recovered.

     Members of the public can enquire about the details of this year's seasonal influenza vaccination programme at the respective SOPCs or GOPCs they are attending, or make enquiries on the HA hotline 2300 6555 during office hours or visit the following website: www.ha.org.hk/goto/gvp202223/en.
Ends/Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Issued at HKT 16:05
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