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Hong Kong Introduces New Bird Flu Vaccine

29 August 2012, at 12:09am

HONG KONG - Secretary for Food & Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, says a new poultry vaccine, Re-6, which is more effective in preventing avian flu H5N1 than the existing one, will be introduced to local chicken farms.

Dr Ko inspected a chicken farm in Yuen Long, the Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market, and the Hospital Authority Infectious Disease Centre last week.

Briefing the media, he said the vaccine has been introduced on the Mainland and successfully registered in Hong Kong. The Government will communicate with Mainland authorities to learn more about the use of the new vaccine, and discuss arrangements for supplying it to Hong Kong.

He hopes to introduce the new vaccine for use in local chicken farms before the end of this year.

Chair of Infectious Diseases, Department of Microbiology of the University of Hong Kong, Prof Yuen Kwok-yung said the control of avian H5N1 relies on infection control in poultry.

“Because the transmission of H5N1 is largely poultry to human transmission, the efficiency of human to human transmission is very low.”

He said the vaccine has been tested in the laboratory and proven to be highly effective.

“Once this vaccine is in place, both in Mainland China and also in Hong Kong, our poultry and also our citizens will be [more] protected.”

Dr Ko added the Government has been adopting comprehensive preventive and surveillance measures, including vaccination at local farms, import control, and stringent hygiene requirements at wholesale and retail markets to prevent avian influenza outbreaks.

It will step up surveillance before the coming winter season, and surprise inspections will be conducted in local poultry farms and pet bird shops.

Dr Ko urged that children and the elderly get vaccinated before the arrival of the winter flu season under the Government’s vaccination schemes starting September 24, adding the subsidy for childhood influenza vaccination will rise from $80 to $130.

The Government Vaccination Programme 2012-13 will also provide free seasonal influenza vaccination to eligible groups.

Dr Ko said the Government had updated the Government Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic with reference to past experience and relevant guidelines by the World Health Organisation.

The updated plan maintains the three response levels, which have proved to be effective. The use of specific scenarios as a criteria for activation of each response level, has been replaced by a risk assessment.

He said this enables the Government to be more flexible and effective in the activation of an appropriate response level and in adopting appropriate response measures.

Further Reading

You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.