Secretary for Health urges public to get seasonal influenza vaccination


28th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) Professor Lo Chung-mau, the Secretary for Health, set an example by receiving a seasonal influenza vaccination (SIV) at the Sai Wan Ho General Out-patient Clinic today. He emphasized the importance of early vaccination to protect against the upcoming influenza seasons. Joining him in the vaccination event were Mr Thomas Chan, the Permanent Secretary for Health; Dr Ronald Lam, the Director of Health; Dr Edwin Tsui, the Controller of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH); Mr Henry Fan, the Chairman of the Hospital Authority (HA); Dr Tony Ko, the Chief Executive of the HA, and frontline healthcare workers.

Professor Lo stated, “SIV is one of the most effective measures to prevent seasonal influenza and its complications. It significantly reduces the risk of influenza-related hospitalization and death. I strongly encourage the public to receive the SIV. Additionally, individuals who contract both influenza and COVID-19 simultaneously may face a higher risk of severe illness and death. It is advisable for citizens to consult healthcare professionals regarding timely COVID-19 vaccination when receiving the SIV to protect their personal health.”

Hong Kong has entered the summer influenza season, and the winter season is approaching. Surveillance data on the percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for seasonal influenza viruses, along with the influenza-associated admission rate in public hospitals, indicates a rising trend in local seasonal influenza activity. There has also been a notable increase in the number of influenza-like illness outbreaks in schools since the start of the school year in early September. Priority groups, including individuals aged 50 or above (including the elderly residing in care homes), adults aged 18 to 49 with underlying health conditions, individuals aged 6 months or above with immunocompromising conditions, pregnant women, and healthcare workers, should receive the SIV as soon as possible. For dual protection, individuals in these groups should also receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster in a timely manner, with a minimum interval of six months after the last dose or recovery from COVID-19 infection (whichever is later), regardless of the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses previously received. The COVID-19 vaccine can be administered alongside or separately from the SIV, with a 14-day interval if individuals choose to space out the vaccinations.

The Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Subsidy Scheme 2023/24 was launched today, while the Government Vaccination Programme, the SIV School Outreach (Free of Charge) Programme, and the Residential Care Home Vaccination Programme will commence on October 5. Members of the public can obtain more information by calling the CHP’s telephone number 2125 2125 or visiting the CHP’s Vaccination Schemes page.