Free vaccination scheme pays off with fewer flu patients

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 March, 2004, 12:00am

The government's programme to provide free flu shots to the vulnerable has proved successful with the number of flu patients declining in recent days, the Hospital Authority chief said yesterday.

Only two outbreaks affecting just over 40 people were recorded in the last week of last month.

There were 11 influenza outbreaks which had affected about 280 people in the third week of last month.

Speaking after a charity event, Hospital Authority chairman Leong Che-hung said the decline in the number of flu patients showed that the government's programme to provide free flu vaccinations to 120,000 patients who are elderly, disabled, chronically ill or on welfare had paid off.

He said the number of patients checking in to hospital wards reserved for patients with fever had also dropped.

Dr Leong said public hospitals were ready for the flu season, saying if necessary they would admit fewer patients who were not critically ill to spare more beds for any possible flu outbreaks.

Meanwhile, Dr Leong said the authority was in talks with some junior doctors whose contracts would expire soon.

He said it hoped to renew their contracts from one to three years, but it would also depend on their performance and the authority's resources.

The authority would also soon put together a list of subsidised drugs and determine how much patients would have to pay under a recent plan to standardise which drugs all public hospitals use.

Dr Leong said no patients would be denied drugs just because they could not afford them.