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Seasonal influenza vaccination programmes to cover secondary school students or Hong Kong residents aged below 18
     The Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases (SCVPD) under the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (October 21) updated its recommendation on the priority groups for seasonal influenza vaccination (SIV) to include secondary school students in the 2022-23 influenza season after reviewing scientific updates, local studies and overseas practices. From November 10, eligible groups of Hong Kong residents will be expanded from covering children aged 6 months to under 12 years to include those less than 18 years (or secondary school students) in various SIV programmes under the DH for this season.
     "An increase in local population susceptible to influenza is expected because of the very low levels of influenza activity since the end of the mild influenza season in 2019-20. Having secondary school students as another priority group for SIV could prevent possible school outbreaks and community transmission. This in turn could help relieve the healthcare system during the coming influenza season when influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory pathogens might be co-circulating," a CHP spokesman said. 
     The SCVPD's latest recommendations provide a supplement on top of those made in April 2022. Details of the SCVPD's latest recommendations are available on CHP's website (www.chp.gov.hk/en/static/24008.html).
     Subsequent to the updated recommendations of the SCVPD, various SIV programmes under the DH will cover secondary school students or Hong Kong residents aged below 18 as an eligible group starting from November 10.
     The SIV School Outreach (Free of Charge) Programme will arrange vaccination activities with private doctors to cover secondary school students. For those schools not participating in the programme, they can invite doctors providing outreach vaccination under the Vaccination Subsidy Scheme (VSS) from the list published on the CHP's website to arrange outreach vaccination service at their campus under the VSS School Outreach (Extra Charge Allowed).
     Other VSS outreach in non-school settings as well as clinics of private doctors enrolled in the VSS can also provide free/subsidised SIV to secondary school students or Hong Kong residents aged below 18.
     Separately, Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients aged below 18 can receive free SIV in the DH's Student Health Service Centres, general outpatient clinics and specialist outpatient clinics of the Hospital Authority.
     In addition, eligible children may choose to receive both COVID-19 vaccination and free SIV at designated DH's Student Health Service Centres when they make a reservation.
     "The Government strongly urges the public to complete the recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccines and the latest seasonal influenza vaccine as early as possible so that they can obtain better protection if co-infected with COVID-19 and influenza," the spokesman said.
     SIV is one of the effective means to prevent seasonal influenza and its complications, as well as reduce influenza-related hospitalisation and death. Persons suffering from influenza and COVID-19 at the same time may be more seriously ill and have a higher death rate. It is therefore important to receive both SIV and COVID-19 vaccination.
     The spokesman stressed that the COVID-19 vaccine can be co-administered with, or separated from, SIV. If people wish to space out COVID-19 vaccine with nasal spray live attenuated vaccine, an interval of 14 days is sufficient.
     The DH will inform participating doctors and relevant stakeholders about the arrangements and encourage their participation. The public may call the CHP's telephone number (2125 2125) or visit the CHP's Vaccination Schemes page for more details of the vaccination programmes.
Ends/Friday, October 21, 2022
Issued at HKT 18:25
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