‘Get vaccinated vs influenza’
WITH the current winter flu outbreak considered as “very serious” compared to previous years, the Hong Kong Department of Health (DH) has urged members of the public to have themselves vaccinated against influenza.
In a statement, the DH-Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said influenza viruses mainly spread through droplets when infected people cough, sneeze or talk.
As of January 22, the South China Morning Post reported that 74 adults who had a severe case of the flu had died since last month while kindergartens and childcare centres will go on holiday starting this Saturday to prevent the spread of influenza.
“People who get influenza may have fever, sore throat, cough, headache, muscle aches, runny nose and tiredness; and usually recover in two to seven days,” the CHP said.
“However, if persons with weakened immunity and elderly persons get infected, it can be a serious illness and may be complicated by infection of the bronchus and lungs, or even death in the most serious cases,” it added.
The centre said influenza A virus and influenza B virus were the most common flu viruses in Hong Kong.
Influenza occurs in Hong Kong throughout the year, but is usually more common in periods from January to March/April and from July to August.
“Influenza can cause serious illnesses in high-risk individuals and even healthy persons,” the centre said.
It said seasonal influenza vaccination is one of the effective means to prevent seasonal influenza and its complications, reduce influenza-related hospitalisation and death.
The centre said influenza vaccines were safe and effective and all persons aged six months or above, except those with conditions unsuitable for vaccination (such as history of severe allergic reaction to vaccine component), should receive seasonal influenza vaccine for personal protection.
It is usually suggested that vaccination should be received in autumn every year, the centre said.
About two weeks after vaccination, the body will develop a sufficient level of antibodies to protect against influenza virus infection.
The CHP also said that it was necessary to get vaccinated against seasonal influenza every year, as the circulating seasonal influenza strains may change from time to time.
The centre said possible side effects of influenza vaccines include occasional soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site.
The CHP said members of the public may consult their doctor for arranging the seasonal influenza vaccination.
The government will provide subsidy to Hong Kong residents aged 50 to 64 years, pregnant women, elderly aged 65 years or above, children aged between 6 months and under 12 years, persons with intellectual disability and persons receiving Disability Allowance, the centre said.
They can receive subsidised influenza vaccination from private doctors enrolled in the Vaccination Subsidy Scheme, the centre added.
It said the subsidy had been increased to $210 per dose of seasonal influenza vaccination, it added.
For more details, please visit chp.gov.hk or call 2125 2125.