26 October 2016
Concern over the safety of domestic vaccines is prompting mainland mothers to look to Hong Kong for vaccinations for the kids. Photo: CNSA
Concern over the safety of domestic vaccines is prompting mainland mothers to look to Hong Kong for vaccinations for the kids. Photo: CNSA

Hong Kong vaccines may become new targets for mainlanders

After suffering infant formula shortage due to a buying spree by mainland visitors in recent years, Hong Kong could now face a cross-border scramble for another product category: vaccines.

Instructions on how to successfully get “safe” vaccinations in Hong Kong are doing the rounds on social media in the mainland amid concerns over the safety of domestic vaccines.

A step-by-step guide offers people everything they need to know before they set out for Hong Kong to get vaccinations for their children or for themselves.

In one online post, a mainland mother advised other women to have their children vaccinated in Hong Kong, noting that the cost per shot is similar to that in mainland but that it comes with high degree of safety.

Another woman urged people to make the trips as soon as possible as there will be a vaccine rush to Hong Kong in the coming weeks, just like what happened for infant formula before.

The warnings have increased after another case of illegal vaccines surfaced in China this week. 

The latest scandal came to light Monday in Shandong province, where a mother and daughter were arrested for illegally buying and selling vaccines.

The women are alleged to have sold unsafe vaccines worth as much as 570 million yuan (US$87.6 million), Apple Daily reported.

The high-risk vaccines had been sold in more than 24 provinces, causing panic among consumers.

According to Ming Pao Daily, a total of 13 companies in provinces of Shandong, Hebei, Anhui and Sichuan have been confirmed to be connected with the scandal.

Following the news reports, many mainlanders are setting their sights on vaccines provided in Hong Kong, where the product quality is more trustworthy due to strict regulatory control.

Apple Daily found that some mainland medical institutions are working with their counterparts in Hong Kong to provide one-stop service for those who want to get vaccinations in the city.

A shot of polyvalent pneumococcal vaccine would cost the equivalent of 1,500 yuan, including a registry fee.

Some Hong Kong health professionals, meanwhile, are beginning to get worried that a rush for vaccines by mainlanders will be coming at a wrong time, given that the flu season is yet to pass its peak in the city.

Dr. Cheng Chi-man, convenor of the Hong Kong Medical Association Community Network, urged local clinics to conduct checks on their in-stock vaccines soon.

But some doctors say the worries are unnecessary as it has been common practice even in the past for mainlanders to seek vaccinations in Hong Kong.

Responding to an Apple Daily inquiry, the Department of Health said both eligible and non-eligible people can make appointments for vaccines, but the latter can only receive public healthcare services that are still available and that they will be required to pay service charges.

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