Health chiefs to sign deal securing supply of chickenpox vaccine
Health chiefs plan to sign a contract with a supplier of chickenpox vaccine to ensure adequate supplies when the disease is included in the government's child-vaccination programme this year.
At present, the vaccine is offered by private doctors, but many have suffered supply problems this year as part of a global shortage.
Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said yesterday that the supplier had pledged adequate supplies for Hong Kong's programme.
"The Department of Health will enter into a contract with the vaccine supplier and include the appropriate clauses and requirements therein," Ko wrote in reply to a question in the Legislative Council from Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan.
Ko said details of the programme would be announced this year.
Taking reference from the 57,100 newborns registered last year, the government has budgeted HK$9.2 million to buy the vaccine in the 2014 to 2015 financial year.
Hong Kong Doctors Union president Dr Henry Yeung Chiu-fat said the shortage was due to a doubling of demand after a finding two years ago that two shots were needed instead of one.
"The whole world is scrambling for the vaccine. Hong Kong, being such a small place, is out-competed," he said. "Some countries purchase it in large lots, so it is easier for them to secure a supply."
Hong Kong Medical Association president Dr Tse Hung-hing, a private paediatrician, said the shortage had eased recently.
There were 10,942 cases of chickenpox in Hong Kong last year, up from 8,589 in 2012.