Health officials lead by example on flu shots

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 December, 2009, 12:00am

Several health officials have already received the swine flu vaccine ahead of the government's publicity campaign next week to encourage the public to have the shots.

Director of Health Lam Ping-yan was among those to whom the shots were administered in the past few days, according to a senior official.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and Secretary for Food and Health Dr York Chow Yat-ngok are expected to have the shot in public on Thursday to promote the vaccination programme.

Chow admitted yesterday that swine flu vaccine recipients would be asked to sign consent forms to ensure they knew of its potential effects, not because the government could deny responsibility if a mishap occurred. Those who did not sign the forms would still get the vaccine, he said.

'The request for them to sign the forms is unrelated to liability for any medical eventuality... If unfortunate things happen they will have the right to pursue legal action. So it's completely needless to worry,' he said. The reassurance came after reports in the Chinese-language press that some recipients of the vaccine might suffer adverse side effects, and that consent signatories might end up unprotected in the event.

Heads of doctors and nurses groups, including the Medical Association and Public Doctors' Association, have been invited to join the publicity drive on Thursday.

University of Hong Kong microbiologist Professor Ho Pak-leung, also president of the Public Doctors' Association, confirmed that he would be taking the vaccine on that day. 'I want to help in the publicity drive,' Ho said.

But he criticised the government's plan to ask people to sign a consent form before the inoculation. 'Asking people to sign a consent form is a public relations disaster, it will create more fears.'

The shots will be available at more than 100 public clinics from December 21.