Starting today, bookings for medical consultations with a view to easing fears over a Covid-19 vaccination can be made at public hospital outpatient clinics.
Tony Ko Pat-sing, chief executive of the Hospital Authority, hopes the service, starting on Friday, can help correct misunderstandings on vaccines.
Doctors will make recommendations based on patients' health histories, and will not conduct new body tests, he said.
Speaking yesterday, Ko said the service was set up to relieve concerns about getting vaccinated.
"Some patients are willing to get the jab but still have some concerns about it and would like to consult a doctor," he said. "They can call the general out-patient clinics they usually go to and book the service."
But he expects there to be not much demand for the service because many people are already aware of the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Ko also dismissed fears regular services at hospitals would be affected.
The authority says the assessment is based on a patient's medical records in an outpatient clinics, and the charges will be the same as for a general medical consultation.
The service is for patients who regularly visit such clinics, but Ko said others who want to consult doctors at public hospitals could also book the service by phone.
He added that the quota for the consultation scheme will be adjusted, depending on demand.
Meanwhile, the authority also started a pilot scheme to vaccinate long-stay psychiatric patients last week.
Ko said other long-term inpatients who would stay in hospitals for months and even years could also get the jab later.
"In fact, in the past, we also arranged influenza vaccinations for patients like psychiatric inpatients every year," he said.
But Ko said the hospitals would not vaccinate emergency patients because they would only stay for a short period and might not be in a stable condition.
"We did not make the decision because the vaccines are dangerous. The reason is if the patients have a fever after being vaccinated, we can't tell whether it was caused by their illness or the vaccine," Ko said.
Separately, special visiting arrangements for vaccinated family members of those hospitalized will be extended from 18 to 22 non-emergency hospitals.
The four newly included facilities are North Lantau, Yan Chai, North District and Tuen Mun hospitals.
Visitors who are fully vaccinated would not have to undergo tests before visiting the hospital and can see family members twice a week.