Parents urged to get children vaccinated against deadly bug

Subsidised scheme for jabs against deadly bug has begun, while cold snap may bring rise in flu

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 December, 2013, 5:29am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 December, 2013, 8:12am

Doctors have urged parents to take children who have not been vaccinated against a deadly bacteria - and also the common flu - to get the jabs quickly before the cold weather expected next week.

The call came as the Observatory reminded the public to prepare for gloomy and wet weather tomorrow, when temperatures will drop to around 12 degrees Celsius in urban areas and lower in the New Territories.

Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 3 claimed two young lives last month. Six children remain in public hospitals after they were infected with the bug.

"Parents should pay attention not just to the Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 3 bacteria, but also to flu. It's the peak of the flu season," Medical Association president Dr Tse Hung Hing said.

"Children who have not had injections against both should get them quickly before the weather turns cold."

Meanwhile, the Hospital Authority said 86 private doctors had filed claims for consultation fees after providing PCV13 vaccinations to more than 240 children as part of a government scheme to combat the bug, which began yesterday.

Some 1,200 private doctors have joined the scheme, which offers subsidised jabs to children aged two to five years old who have never received the PCV13 vaccine.

Under the scheme, the Centre for Health Protection supplies the vaccine to the private doctors for free and offers a HK$50 subsidy per jab for consultation fees.

According to the list of doctors, 120 will not charge any fee in addition to the subsidy. Some 300 plan to charge less than HK$100, while two doctors will charge as much as HK$850 extra.

The authority said some 300 clinics had ordered about 5,000 doses of the vaccine. About 1,300 doses were delivered to 70 clinics on Thursday and 1,400 doses went to 90 clinics yesterday.

"I will take my younger son to get a flu injection, but not the PCV13 vaccine," Jacky Yeung, a father of two sons aged three and five, said yesterday. "I have doubts about the effectiveness of the PCV13 vaccine."

Yeung referred to the case of a 20-month-old boy who on Wednesday was confirmed to have been infected with serotype 3 despite having received the vaccine.

The Centre for Health Protection said the vaccine was only about 60 per cent effective in protecting children at such a young age.