Vaccination campaign 'falls flat'
The government's attempt to get more children vaccinated by subsidising flu shots has largely fallen flat, a concern group says.
More than 60 per cent of families surveyed said getting shots at private clinics was still too costly, while up to 70 per cent preferred getting the shots in government institutions instead, figures provided by the Child Vaccination Concern Group showed.
At the end of last month the group interviewed 1,697 families with children within the scheme's age bracket.
Under the Influenza Vaccination Subsidy Scheme, parents pay a discounted fee for child flu vaccines after an HK$80 per shot government subsidy. Children aged between six months and six years old are eligible.
'Consultation fees vary greatly after the subsidy,' group convenor and social worker Bill Lay Yan-piau said. 'They range from roughly HK$70 to HK$250, and even higher. There is a general perception among parents that they will only get shots at private clinics if they have money to spare.'
The scheme should be extended to government clinics to encourage more vaccination and to make private doctors' charges more competitive, Mr Lay said.
Forty per cent of respondents said they did not understand how the scheme worked.
Parents wishing to benefit from the scheme need to fill in an authorisation form for participating doctors, who are identified by scheme logos displayed at their clinics. Information is available online at www.ivss.gov.hk.
'Many parents of low-income families don't even know how to use the internet, and that's why the grass-roots doesn't know about the scheme,' Mr Lay said.
Some 80,000 flu shots had been administered under the scheme as of last month, records indicated. The government estimated that 300,000 children were eligible.
The scheme began last November and runs until March 31.
'The figures are worrying, since the vaccinations should be done before the peak period [January to March],' Mr Lay said.