Government announces provision of COVID-19 vaccines by private market and updated arrangement for Government COVID-19 vaccination programme
The Government announced earlier that a total of the three types of COVID-19 vaccines (Comirnaty ancestral strain vaccine (30 micrograms/dose), Comirnaty bivalent vaccine and CoronaVac vaccine) (registered COVID-19 vaccines) being supplied in Hong Kong by two drug manufacturers, namely Fosun Pharma and Sinovac, have been registered as pharmaceutical products in Hong Kong in accordance with the Pharmacy and Poisons Regulations (Cap. 138A). The Government today (December 22) announced the following updated vaccination arrangements.
Provision of COVID-19 vaccines in private market
The registration of the Comirnaty and CoronaVac vaccines in Hong Kong in accordance with Cap. 138A reconfirms the safety and efficacy of the relevant vaccines, and also signifies that the relevant drug manufacturers may market and supply the vaccines concerned to private healthcare professionals, allowing them to supply the relevant vaccines to those in need through the private market. Based on the Government’s understanding, the two drug manufacturers are thriving to supply the relevant vaccines to the private market as soon as possible.
The Government reminded that the use of registered COVID-19 vaccines outside the Government COVID-19 vaccination programme, such as arrangement on the scope of treatment, dosage, method of administration and professional responsibility, must adhere to the established arrangements for registered pharmaceutical products under Cap. 138A. When administering registered COVID-19 vaccines to members of the public, private healthcare professionals must make reference to the registration details and labelled usage guidelines of the relevant vaccines, and take into account relevant factors, including the health and personal conditions of the vaccine recipients, as well as any recommendations issued by the relevant authorities. At the same time, the statutory civil immunity provided under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Use of Vaccines) Regulation (Cap. 599K) in relation to COVID-19 vaccines does not apply to persons who prescribe, dispense and administer the relevant registered COVID-19 vaccines.
There is a considerable amount of data supporting that the registered COVID-19 vaccines are safe and efficacious, and meet the standards for safety, efficacy and quality. Therefore, the Indemnity Fund set up in the early stage of the epidemic under the Government COVID-19 vaccination programme to provide additional protection for vaccine recipients when safety data of COVID-19 vaccines were being accumulated will not be applicable to unexpected serious adverse events caused by the administration of registered COVID-19 vaccines.
On the other hand, as a way to facilitate more effective infection control, Cap. 599K stipulates that healthcare professionals administering COVID-19 vaccines registered under Cap. 138A must collect specified personal information of the relevant recipients and report to the Director of Health via the eHealth System (Subsidies), with a view to assisting the Government to collect comprehensive and accurate COVID-19 vaccination records. The Government will provide relevant information to the healthcare professionals concerned through drug manufacturers.
COVID-19 vaccination arrangement for non-Hong Kong residents
Having considered that private doctors, clinics and hospitals should be slated to provide COVID-19 vaccination service in the near future, and that the demand and supply of the Comirnaty bivalent vaccine as well as the paediatric and toddler formulation of vaccine under the Government COVID-19 vaccination programme are tighter as compared to that of the ancestral strain vaccine, and the lead time for replenishment is longer, starting tomorrow (December 23), the Government will adjust the vaccination arrangement under the Government vaccination programme. Hong Kong residents will be accorded priority to receive the Comirnaty bivalent vaccine and the paediatric and toddler formulation of vaccine for free, while non-Hong Kong residents are still eligible for receiving the Comirnaty ancestral strain vaccine and CoronaVac vaccine for free. Individual non-Hong Kong residents who meet the requirements under the Government COVID-19 vaccination programme, and have received COVID-19 vaccines in Hong Kong or hold an appointment registration under the Government COVID-19 vaccination programme before the implementation date of the updated arrangement (December 23) can still choose to receive the Comirnaty bivalent vaccine and the paediatric and toddler formulation of vaccine for free. They need to provide the vaccination or appointment records for verification when making appointment and visiting the site of vaccination. Non-Hong Kong residents may also receive COVID-19 vaccination service outside the Government vaccination programme via local private doctors, clinics and hospitals at their own cost.
A Government spokesman said, “The Government will closely monitor the vaccination situation of the COVID-19 vaccines, including the Comirnaty bivalent vaccine, and regularly review the Government’s vaccination programme based on the stock level of the COVID-19 vaccine in Hong Kong. If necessary, we may take into consideration the benefits and risks assessment by the experts as well as the necessity and urgency of vaccination, and adjust the vaccination priority of different groups under the vaccination programme accordingly. The Government will review the COVID-19 vaccination programme next year with reference to the latest scientific evidence and expert advice, including whether it is necessary to regularise COVID-19 vaccination, recommend priority groups under the COVID-19 vaccination programme, as well as vaccination arrangements for public and private healthcare sectors to provide the vaccines to the general public and specific groups such as the elderly, healthcare workers, residents and staff of residential care homes, school teachers and students.
“The official registration of COVID-19 vaccines provided in Hong Kong reflects that the relevant vaccines are safe and efficacious, and that the relevant supporting data is sufficient. We call upon members of the public who have not yet received suitable doses of vaccine to get the suitable doses as soon as possible for self-protection, in particular high-risk persons such as the elderly and the young,” the spokesman added.
Ends/Thursday, December 22, 2022
Issued at HKT 20:51