Health officials reject joint orders of influenza vaccines

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2007, 12:00am

The government will only consider co-ordinating the supply of flu vaccines if there is a pandemic, Director of Health Lam Ping-yan said.

Dr Lam said it was not appropriate to centralise the supply of flu vaccines for both the public and private sectors.

Private sector doctors complained that they had found it difficult to get enough vaccines from drug companies early last year amid a widespread outbreak, including on the mainland, of avian flu. This prompted their request that the government order vaccines for both sectors.

However, Dr Lam said it would not be proper for the government to order the vaccines for the private sector because the government, when buying in bulk, could pay a lower price than private sector doctors. This would interfere with the free market.

'The situation would be different if there was a pandemic. If that happened, the government would consider centralising the ordering of vaccines,' he said.

Before winter, the department of health had ordered 300,000 doses of vaccines for the government's flu vaccination programme. The purchase was flexible and could be increased by 90,000 doses or reduced by that number, he said.

Ultimately, the government released 90,000 doses to the private sector.

Dr Lam said the department had not overestimated the demand for flu vaccines, adding the system was flexible, and that more than 80 per cent of the city's 300,000 doses have been used.