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Scientific Committees under CHP update consensus interim recommendations on use of COVID-19 vaccines
     ​The Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases and the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases (JSC) under the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health convened a meeting yesterday (February 20) to discuss and issue the updated consensus interim recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in Hong Kong.

     The JSC reviewed the latest scientific evidence, and noted that all available COVID-19 vaccines (including inactivated virus and mRNA vaccines) are effective in reducing death and severe COVID-19 infection. Experts also noted results of early studies indicating that the monovalent XBB mRNA vaccines could provide enhanced protection against JN.1, which has become the predominant COVID-19 variant in Hong Kong.

     Experts made the following recommendations:
  1. Use of vaccines – When there is adequate supply, monovalent XBB mRNA vaccine (now provided to high-risk priority groups as a choice for initial and booster vaccination) is recommended to be extended to initial vaccination of non high-risk priority groups (e.g. healthy adults) who do not require booster vaccination, having regard to the enhanced protection offered by the vaccine. Individuals can also choose other available COVID-19 vaccines (including inactivated virus and mRNA vaccines), based on personal preference, for initial and booster vaccination given their effectiveness in reducing death and severe COVID-19 infection.
  2. Priority groups and vaccination schedule for booster – The JSC considered the previous recommendation could remain applicable throughout the year. In other words, a booster dose is recommended to be given at least six months after the last dose or COVID-19 infection (whichever is later), regardless of the number of doses received previously, for the following high-risk priority groups for enhanced protection – 
  • older adults aged 50 or above including those living in residential care homes;
  • persons aged 18 to 49 years with underlying comorbidities;
  • persons with immunocompromising conditions aged six months and above;
  • pregnant women; and
  • healthcare workers. 
     Having regard to the above recommendation on the use of vaccines for non high-risk priority groups, the Government will continue to closely monitor the supply of monovalent XBB mRNA vaccines, and make suitable adjustment to the use of vaccines as and when appropriate.
      ​Details of the interim recommendations are available on the CHP's website at www.chp.gov.hk/en/static/24008.html.
Ends/Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Issued at HKT 20:20
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