Home Health Record 1.86 Million Flu Vaccines Administered in 2023-24, Health Department Reports

Record 1.86 Million Flu Vaccines Administered in 2023-24, Health Department Reports


HONG KONG – The Department of Health announced today that over 1.86 million doses of the seasonal influenza vaccination (SIV) were administered during the 2023-24 season, marking a record high and a 20% increase compared to the same period last year.

In a statement addressing media reports on SIV usage, the department emphasized that all children and adolescents under 18 years are covered by the Government’s vaccination programme. This extensive coverage has contributed significantly to the increased vaccination rates observed this season.

For the 2023-24 SIV season, participation in the SIV School Outreach (Free of Charge) Programme and the Vaccination Subsidy Scheme School Outreach (Extra Charge Allowed) has been substantial. Approximately 350 secondary schools, 630 primary schools, and 890 kindergartens and child care centers have enrolled, accounting for about 70%, 95%, and 80% of the respective institutions across the city.

The department attributed the rise in student vaccinations to robust publicity efforts. As of June 2, about 538,200 doses of the SIV were administered to children aged between six months and below 18 years under the Government Vaccination Programme. This represents a record high and a significant 36.9% increase from last year. Overall, the vaccine coverage rate has reached 52.9%.

The Department of Health clarified that, according to the Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases (SCVPD) under the Centre for Health Protection, both injectable inactivated influenza vaccines (IIV) and nasal live attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIV) are safe and offer comparable protection. There is no scientific evidence favoring the priority use of the nasal LAIV over the injectable form.

Under the current SIV School Outreach (Free of Charge) Programme, kindergartens and child care centers can opt for either the injectable IIV or the nasal LAIV. Sufficient vaccines were provided to institutions choosing the nasal LAIV. However, only about a quarter of the participating kindergartens and child care centers opted for the nasal LAIV.

Past experiences suggest that schools and healthcare providers consider various factors when selecting vaccines for outreach programs, including parental preference, potential side effects, and contraindications. The Department reiterated that the suitability of individuals for IIV and LAIV varies, with more restrictions and considerations for the nasal spray vaccine, including a shorter shelf life.

The seasonal influenza vaccines for this season are set to expire in July, and the 2024-25 SIV programmes are expected to commence in September. The Department of Health will develop implementation details for the upcoming season, taking into account survey results from schools and doctors participating in the 2024 school outreach programmes, as well as the latest recommendations from the SCVPD and health authorities from other regions.

As the city continues its efforts to combat influenza, the record-breaking vaccination rates this season reflect significant progress in public health initiatives and community participation.