Free jabs for school kids and elderly

Local | Jane Cheung 18 Oct 2019

Free vaccinations for senior citizens ahead of the winter flu surge will start next Wednesday, with painless nasal vaccinations introduced for school children for the first time.

The Centre for Health Protection yesterday reminded eligible citizens to receive the free jab in a timely manner to protect themselves from the upcoming winter flu season.

They include elderly citizens who are 65 years old or above, those between 50 and 65 who are recipients of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, children between six months to 12 years old and pregnant women in CSSA households and residents of elderly homes and centers for the disabled.

Elderly citizens who are 65 or above can get vaccinations in the Hospital Authority's general out-patient clinics and designated elderly health centers of the Department of Health from November 4.

"In addition, under the Residential Care Home Vaccination Program, the subsidy for visiting medical officers will be increased from HK$70 to HK$100 per dose," a spokesman of the center said, adding that another Vaccination Subsidy Scheme already started last week.

"Under the VSS, enrolled private doctors can provide subsidized vaccination to eligible groups in their clinics, or provide outreach vaccination services," he said.

The subsidy under the VSS is HK$210 per dose.

The Seasonal Influenza Vaccination School Outreach Program will also start next Wednesday. Under public-private partnerships, teams of government staff or medic will reach out to participating schools to provide free jabs to school children.

A similar pilot program for kindergartens and child care centers started last week.

For the first time ever, the center will select about 2,000 children in primary schools or kindergartens to receive a nasal flu injection instead of traditional jabs to test the feasibility and effectiveness of the new type of vaccine.

"Influenza can cause serious illnesses in high-risk individuals and even healthy persons. Given that influenza vaccines are safe and effective, all persons aged six months or above, except those with known contradictions, are recommended to receive the injection for personal protection," he said.

Infectious disease experts warned last month that the winter flu season would start early this year - possibly this month, compared to its usual starting time of January - and last longer than usual.

The predictions came after Australia saw a severe winter flu outbreak this year, as experts said there are links between flu outbreaks worldwide and similar patterns are seen across different continents at different times of the year.

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