Rush For Childhood Vaccines Create Increased Demand In Hong Kong

Hong Kong vaccination services have a safer reputation than mainland China

The vaccine crisis has raised questions about the safety of China's entire vaccine industry, leading parents to seek treatment in Hong Kong, reports The Strait Times.

On July 21, 2018, China vaccine producers Changsheng Biotechnology, Zhejiang Huaihai Pharmaceutical, and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products were identified in various recalls. 

Hong Kong already has a reputation for safer medication and vaccines than mainland China after previous health scandals.

Previously, on June 15, 2018, a shortage of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in China led thousands of women to seek treatment in neighboring countries, such as Hong Kong, causing price increases and vaccine shortages, reported PrecisionVaccinations.com. 

But, does Hong Kong have enough childhood vaccine inventory to support the 60,000 births every year? 

The Hong Kong public sector offers a free child immunization programme involving a series of injections for babies at two, four, six and 18 months of age, with follow-up jabs when they are six and 11 years old.

Manager Jacky Ho of a private Hong Kong clinic. located in the commercial hub of Tsim Sha Tsui said, “it had received hundreds of calls and messages, around six times the normal rate of inquiries, since the China scandal broke over the weekend.”

Mr. Ho described the demand as "explosive", saying it was mostly from mainland Chinese parents looking for vaccines imported from countries other than China.

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"The closest place for them to get the vaccines is Hong Kong," said Mr. Ho, who added that the clinic's inoculations come from England, France, and the United States.

Hong Kong private clinics usually see about 20 percent of their patients come from China to avoid jabs made on the mainland, reported South China Morning Post. (SCMP) 

“If the Hong Kong government does not adopt a timely policy, it could turn out to be a political crisis for the administration,” lawmaker Dr. Kwok Ka-ki, also a private doctor, said to SCMP.

Private hospital Hong Kong Sanatorium said it had seen a rise in inquiries and had contacted suppliers to ensure "a stable supply of vaccines to meet the needs of patients in coming days," reported AFP.com.

Hong Kong's health department and Pharmaceutical Society both said it would closely monitor the supply of vaccines, but described it as stable for now.

AFP is a global news agency.