A child receives a BioNTech shot at Hong Kong Children's Hospital Children Community Vaccination Centres on Nov 9, 2022. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)
HONG KONG – Private market in Hong Kong can provide COVID-19 vaccines since the jabs were registered as pharmaceutical products in the city, the special administrative region government said, announcing that it will adjust jab arrangement under its vaccination program starting Friday.
Amid an increased demand for medicine for relief of pain and fever, the government has also assured the public that they do not need to stockpile any medicines, including those containing paracetamol, saying that the stock is sufficient.
Three COVID-19 vaccines – Comirnaty ancestral strain vaccine, Comirnaty bivalent vaccine and CoronaVac vaccine – being supplied in Hong Kong by drug manufacturers Fosun Pharma and Sinovac have been registered as pharmaceutical products in the city in accordance with the Pharmacy and Poisons Regulations.
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The registration of the vaccines reconfirms their safety and efficacy, and signifies that the drug manufacturers may market and supply the vaccines concerned to private healthcare professionals, enabling them to supply the jabs to those in need through the private market, the government said in a statement Thursday night.
Based on the government's understanding, the drug manufacturers are striving to supply the relevant vaccines to the private market as soon as possible.
The latest shipment of about 540,000 doses of the Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5 bivalent vaccine arrived in the city on Thursday as arranged by Fosun Pharma
While administering registered COVID vaccines to the public, private healthcare professionals must make reference to the registration details and labelled usage guidelines of the vaccines, and take into account relevant factors, including the health and condition of the recipients as well as any recommendations issued by the relevant authorities.
To help the government collect comprehensive and accurate COVID-19 vaccination records, healthcare professionals administering COVID-19 jabs have been reminded to collect the specified personal information of the recipients and report to the Director of Health via the eHealth System (Subsidies).
There is a considerable amount of data supporting the safety and efficacy of the registered COVID-19 vaccines. Therefore, the Indemnity Fund set up in the early stage of the epidemic under the COVID-19 vaccination program will not be applicable to unexpected serious adverse events caused by the administration of registered COVID-19 vaccines, said the government.
The government will adjust the arrangement under its vaccination program starting Friday considering that private doctors, clinics and hospitals should be slated to provide a COVID-19 vaccination service in the near future and that the demand and supply of the Comirnaty bivalent vaccine as well as the pediatric and toddler formulation vaccine under the COVID-19 vaccination program are tighter compared to that of the ancestral strain vaccine.
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Hong Kong residents will be given priority to receive the Comirnaty bivalent vaccine and the pediatric and toddler formulation for free, while non-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 vaccination program and have received COVID-19 vaccines in the city or have an appointment registration under the vaccination program before the implementation date of the updated arrangement, can still choose to receive the Comirnaty bivalent vaccine and the pediatric and toddler formulation for free.
People sit in a rest area after receiving the COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination center set up inside a train station in Hong Kong on March 11, 2022. (DALE DE LA REY / AFP)
New shipment of Comirnaty bivalent jab arrives
The latest shipment of about 540,000 doses of the Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5 bivalent vaccine arrived in the city on Thursday as arranged by Fosun Pharma.
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Soon after the arrival of the vaccines, government staff carried out stringent checking and inspection in accordance to ensure that the vaccine complies with the product specifications and that the transportation process follows the relevant cold-chain requirements.
Paracetamol supply stable
The stock level of medicine containing paracetamol in the public healthcare system is sufficient and there is a stable supply for use as analgesics and antipyretics, the government said in a separate statement.
Aware about the recent increase in demand for medicine for relief of pain and fever, in particular a certain brand of medicine containing paracetamol for use as an analgesic and antipyretic, the government has liaised with the relevant suppliers, manufacturers, local pharmaceutical manufacturers and community pharmacy associations and found that the supply is stable.
Even though the supply of a specific brand of medicine for relief of pain and fever may be tight due to the sharp rise in demand within a short period of time, the supply of other brands for pain and fever relief are still sufficient, it added.
Drug retail outlets such as pharmacies and supermarkets have been urged to closely monitor the sale of the relevant drugs for maintaining a steady supply to those in need.
According to records, there are currently 756 pharmaceutical products containing paracetamol registered in Hong Kong, the statement added.