Influenza Vaccine

Influenza is an acute illness of the respiratory tract caused by influenza viruses, the symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle pain, fatigue and headache. However, influenza can be a serious illness to the young children or elders, and may be complicated by bronchitis, chest infection or even death. WHO recommends to use the trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV) and also suggests the use of quadrivalent influenza vaccine (QIV) with more comprehensive protection since 2012.

The Vaccination Subsidy Scheme (VSS) 2018/19 starts from 10 October 2018. Eligible Hong Kong residents including pregnant women, elders aged 65 or above, persons aged 50 years to 64 years, children aged between 6 months and under 12 years, persons with intellectual disability and Disability Allowance recipients are entitled to a HK$210 Government subsidy per dose of seasonal influenza vaccination.

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WHO's Recommendation

It is recommended that vaccines for use  in the 2018-2019 influenza season (northern hemisphere winter) contain the following:
  • A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus (B/Victoria/2/87 lineage); and
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata/16/88 lineage).

People who are in the priority groups are generally at increased risk of severe influenza or transmitting influenza to those at high risk. Therefore, they should have higher priority for seasonal influenza vaccination.

In 2018/19, the Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases recommends the following priority groups for seasonal influenza vaccination in Hong Kong:
  • Pregnant women
  • Elderly persons living in residential care homes
  • Long-stay residents of institutions for persons with disability
  • Persons aged 50 years or above
  • Persons with chronic medical problems*
  • Health care workers
  • Children between the age of 6 months to 11 years
  • Poultry workers
  • Pig farmers and pig-slaughtering industry personnel

*People with chronic medical problems mainly refer to those who have chronic cardiovascular (except hypertension without complication), lung, metabolic or kidney diseases, obesity# (BMI 30 or above), who are immunocompromised^, children and adolescents (aged 6 months to 18 years) on long-term aspirin therapy, and those with chronic neurological condition that can compromise respiratory function or the handling of respiratory secretions or that can increase the risk for aspiration or those who lack the ability to care for themselves.

# Obesity is considered as an independent risk factor for influenza complication and thus people with BMI 30 or above are included for seasonal influenza vaccination.

^People who are immunocompromised refer to those with a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment).

Members of the public can consult their family doctors to receive seasonal influenza vaccination for personal protection.

Who should not receive influenza vaccination?
Those who are allergic to eggs, neomycin gentamycin or a previous dose of influenza vaccine are not suitable to have the influenza vaccination.
Those who suffer frome an acute febrile illness on the day of vaccination are not suitable to have influenza vaccination also.