The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) announced on 31 July that free or subsidised 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) will be provided to the eligible high-risk elderly persons starting from the coming vaccination programmes to strengthen their immunity against pneumococcal infection.

"The Hospital Authority (HA) will continue take part in the Government Vaccination Programme (GVP) to provide seasonal influenza and pneumococcal vaccination to eligible persons in public hospitals and outpatient clinics," the spokesperson for the HA said on the same day.

First phase to be launched in October 2017


The spokesperson explained that the first phase will commence together with seasonal influenza vaccination in October. In the programmes, one dose of PCV13 will be provided to eligible elderly persons with high-risk conditions, followed by one dose of 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (23vPPV) one year after.

As free or subsidised 23vPPV has been provided under the GVP and the Vaccination Subsidy Scheme (VSS) respectively since 2009, if an eligible elderly person has already received such vaccination, one mop-up dose of PCV13 will be given a year later. For those without high-risk conditions, subsidised 23vPPV will continue to be provided.

Reviewing scientific evidence and recommendations across the international community, the CHP's Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases has updated its recommendation on PV. High-risk individuals aged 2 or above should receive a dose of PCV13, followed by a dose of 23vPPV a year later. Those who have received either one of the two vaccines should be administered with one dose of the other a year later.

"Invasive pneumococcal disease can occur in persons of any age but the risk is substantially higher in the elderly. In addition, dual vaccination of seasonal influenza vaccination (SIV) and PV can lower the risk of hospitalisation and mortality among the elderly," a spokesman for the CHP said.

While eligible young children have already been covered by the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme under which free PCV13 doses are provided at 2, 4, 6 and 12 months of age, based on the updated recommendation, the government will implement the enhanced PV to eligible high-risk elderly persons and those yet to receive any PV (newly turned up) accordingly.

The programmes for the newly turned up eligible elderly persons will be carried out concurrently with the SIV programmes. Mop-up PCV13 will be introduced in two phases. Free (DH clinics and elderly homes) and subsidised (enrolled private doctors) mop-up will tie in with SIV programmes while free mop-up under the HA will be launched around late March 2018.

Subsidy levels of PCV13 and 23vPPV in the VSS are set at $730 and $190 per dose


In consideration of the vaccine cost, affordability of the target elderly persons and the services rendered, the subsidy levels of PCV13 and 23vPPV in the VSS are set at $730 and $190 per dose respectively.

Enrolled doctors of the VSS will display the designated logo near the entrance of their clinics and a pricing poster showing their charges. The list of enrolled doctors and their service fees after deducting the government's subsidy will be uploaded to the eHealth System (Subsidies) around two weeks before its launch. The participating elderly persons can use their Elderly Health Care Voucher in payments.

In 2016/17, a total of 41 000 doses of 23vPPV were administered, an increase of 24 per cent compared to the same period in 2015/16, including about 26 000 via the GVP and 15 000 under the VSS, representing increases of 41 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. It is estimated that about 400 000 elderly persons out of the 1.17 million population had already received one dose of 23vPPV, with an overall coverage rate at 34 per cent.

"We will continue to work closely with the HA, elderly homes, private doctors, community partners and stakeholders, and hold briefings on vaccination arrangements to prepare for the launch and promotion of the programmes," the spokesman for the CHP added. MIMS

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