Health Protection Center to Modify Pneumococcal Vaccination Program Based on Scientific Committee’s Recommendations

Hong Kong Health Protection Center Director, Tsui Lok-kin, has announced plans to modify the pneumococcal vaccination program based on recommendations from the Scientific Committee on Vaccine Prevention. Following a meeting with the committee, Xu Lejian from the Health Protection Center shared insights on the prevalence of invasive diseases caused by pneumococcal bacteria, which primarily impact children under 2 years old and individuals over the age of 65. Serotype 3 was identified as the most common strain, accounting for 50% of cases. The safety of the four existing pneumococcal vaccines in Hong Kong was confirmed during the review; however, the 15-valent vaccine demonstrated greater efficacy against serotype 3 immunity. Consequently, the committee recommends replacing the current 13-valent vaccine with the 15-valent version in the future.

Regarding vaccination schedules, Xu Lejian explained that currently, infants receive the 13-valent vaccine at 2 and 4 months old, with the third dose scheduled for 1 year old in the future. Elderly individuals without major health issues will continue to receive the 15-valent vaccine. The use of the 23-valent vaccine will be maintained, with elderly patients suffering from the disease eligible to receive the 15-valent vaccine a year later.

Furthermore, Xu Lejian emphasized the importance of vaccination in combating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, acknowledging it as an endemic disease. The World Health Organization is currently meeting to determine its approach and vaccine selection. In October, Hong Kong’s expert group will convene to discuss the WHO recommendations and consider the choice of vaccines for 2024, including the possibility of a third-generation vaccine from pharmaceutical companies.

These decisions aim to enhance public health and protect vulnerable populations, ensuring effective prevention against pneumococcal diseases and the ongoing battle against COVID-19.

The Director of the Health Protection Center Tsui Lok-kin, in response to the recommendations of the Scientific Committee on Vaccine Prevention, said that the authorities intend to modify the vaccination arrangements of the pneumococcal vaccination program.

Xu Lejian said the Health Protection Center met with the committee on Tuesday to discuss the pneumococcal situation and preventive vaccines. Data from the last eight years show that invasive diseases caused by pneumococcal bacteria mainly affect children under the age of 2 and elderly people 65. The most common serotype is serotype 3, which accounts for half of them. They also reviewed the four current pneumococcal vaccines in Hong Kong and found that All are safe. However, in terms of efficacy, the 15-valent vaccine is relatively effective against serotype three immunity. Therefore, the committee recommends that the government replace the 13-valent vaccine with a 15-valent vaccine in the future.

Xu Lejian said that the government’s conclusion is that 2-month-old and 4-month-old babies are currently given 13-price vaccines respectively, and the third shot at 1 year old will be given in the future. As with the elderly who do not have major health problems, they will still receive the 15-valent vaccine. The 23-valent vaccine will continue to be used, and elderly patients with the disease will receive the vaccine 15-valentine a year later.

In addition, Xu Lejian pointed out that the new coronavirus has become an endemic disease, and vaccination is an important part. He said that the World Health Organization is still meeting to decide how to continue to respond to the new corona epidemic and which vaccines to use. The Hong Kong expert group will also meet in October to discuss the recommendations of the World Health Organization and consider which vaccines should be chosen in 2024, including addressing Does the pharmaceutical company have a third generation vaccine?

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