As the government scrambles to contain the influenza outbreak in Hong Kong, a famous Cantopop singer has found herself at the center of a controversy regarding the effectiveness of the influenza vaccines provided to the public, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Kay Tse On-kei, a mother of two who is known for songs that tackle social issues, was heard telling her friends in a private chat group in a WhatsApp audio recording about her doubts on the effectiveness of the vaccines against the flu outbreak this year
In the recording, which runs for about five minutes, Tse said people should ask their doctors whether the vaccines contain mercury and aluminum.
She also said for every 10 people who had taken the injection, nine still caught the flu.
The recording has gone viral on WhatsApp since it was leaked and put online on Wednesday.
As Tse is a public figure, her disparaging remarks about the flu vaccine received a lot of attention, with some experts and groups coming forward soon afterwards to clarify that what she said was inadmissible.
In a government press release, a spokesman for the Department of Health stressed that seasonal flu vaccination is a safe and effective way of preventing influenza and its complications.
The Hong Kong Medical Association also said in a statement that although vaccination could not completely prevent people from being infected, it was still the most effective way, adding that Tse said “ridiculous”.
Dr. Ho Pak-leung, president of the Carol Yu Center for Infection at the University of Hong Kong, said getting vaccinated can effectively prevent children from being hospitalized for flu.
Describing Tse’s claims in the recording as totally wrong, Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, a microbiologist at the university, said the vaccines contain a mercury compound preservative called Thiomersal, but not mercury. Unlike mercury, Thiomersal can be discharged from the body, the professor said.
Learning that she has been embroiled in the controversy, Tse admitted in a Facebook post on Thursday morning that it was her in the recording, although she was very surprised at it being leaked since it should have been a private conversation.
Tse said she had no intention of influencing public opinion about the vaccine, but she stressed she strongly believes that all loving parents will make the best choice for their family.
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