Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases discusses seasonal influenza situation and vaccine effectiveness

Hong Kong (HKSAR) -      The Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases (SCVPD) under the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health convened an urgent meeting today (February 12) to review the latest situation of the local 2017/18 winter influenza season and the effectiveness of the seasonal influenza vaccines (SIVs) of the current season. 

​     In today's meeting, the SCVPD noted that starting from the 2017/18 influenza season, the CHP has collaborated with private medical practitioners participating in its sentinel surveillance system to collect data to estimate the vaccine effectiveness of SIV. Preliminary results showed that SIV offers approximately 40 per cent protection against laboratory-confirmed influenza infections in the 2017/18 season in local primary care setting. The CHP will continue to collect data from the private medical practitioners in this season to monitor the vaccine effectiveness of SIV.

​     At the meeting, the SCVPD also listened to the presentation by the University of Hong Kong, noting that a recent study from the university's research team found that influenza vaccination effectiveness was estimated to be 66 per cent for hospitalised children.

​     The SCVPD reaffirmed that vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent seasonal influenza and its complications, as well as reduce influenza-associated hospitalisation and death.

In particular, children, the elderly and those with underlying illnesses are recommended to get vaccinated against seasonal influenza for better personal protection. 

​     During the meeting, the SCVPD agreed that all members of the public aged six months or above except those with known contraindications, are still recommended to get vaccinated against seasonal influenza for personal protection, and they should receive the SIV as early as possible if they have not yet received any SIV in the 2017/18 season. 

​     Besides, the SCVPD agreed that people should only receive SIV annually according to the recommendation by the World Health Organization, which will cover both the winter and the summer season. Those who have already received SIV in the 2017/18 season are not advised to receive an additional dose of SIV within the 2017/18 season irrespective of the type of 2017/18 Northern Hemisphere (NH) SIV they received, as there is no scientific consensus on receiving SIV twice a year.

​     The SCVPD acknowledged that the vaccine components in the SIVs for both the 2017/18 NH season and the 2018 Southern Hemisphere (SH) season are either the same or antigenically similar. People can receive the SIV for the 2018 SH season if the 2017/18 NH SIV becomes unavailable later this year.

​     For more information, the public may call the CHP's hotline (2125 2125) or visit the CHP's Vaccination Schemes page and frequently asked questions on SIV.

Published on: 2018-02-12

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