Sophia Chan visits hospitals

Secretary for Food & Health Prof Sophia Chan today visited the COVID-19 vaccination stations in Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital and Tseung Kwan O Hospital.   She also inspected the seasonal influenza vaccination (SIV) service for the staff of the Hospital Authority and the public during the visit.   Speaking during the tour, Prof Chan emphasised that receiving the COVID-19 vaccination and the SIV can build up dual protection.   "Evidence repeatedly indicates that a person who contracts influenza and COVID-19 at the same time may be more seriously ill and will have a higher risk of death. Receiving SIV can reduce the chance of hospitalisation and the length of stay.”       Citing the Department of Health's statistics, she said that for the 213 fatal cases of COVID-19, 93% affected seniors aged 60 or above. Among the 137 COVID-19 cases involving residential care homes for the elderly, the mortality was up to 28%.   “The proportion of fatal cases increases with age, so elderly people residing in the community or at residential care homes should get vaccinated as soon as possible to build up dual protection."   Prof Chan said she is glad that those who received COVID-19 vaccination or the SIV at the two hospitals she visited highly praised the arrangements. She called on patients with follow-up appointments and visitors to make the best use of the arrangement to get vaccinated as soon as possible.   COVID-19 vaccination stations have been set up at seven public hospitals for patients having follow-up appointments at the hospitals and visitors to receive the BioNTech vaccination without prior booking.   As regards the seasonal influenza vaccination, the Hospital Authority is carrying out its jab programme in two phases. In the first phase, from October 6 to November 5, the authority will provide the SIV to eligible patients of public hospitals, outpatient clinics at the hospitals and 47 general outpatient clinics.   The second phase will commence on November 8 to cover people aged 65 or above living in the community. They can receive vaccination at the general outpatient clinics in various districts.   The health chief also met frontline staff of the two hospitals during the visit and explained that the Government will continue its multipronged strategy to ease the manpower shortage of professionals in the public healthcare system.        “The passage of the Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill 2021 at the Legislative Council last week enables the creation of a new pathway for qualified non-locally trained doctors to practise in Hong Kong.   “The Government will also continue to allocate resources to train up local healthcare professionals, which include increasing training quotas and providing financial support to universities for upgrading and expanding medical teaching facilities.”   Additionally, the authority has implemented measures including the creation of the rank of Associate Nurse Consultant in the nursing grade to provide an alternative promotion pathway for nurses aspiring to develop a career in specialty nursing, apart from the existing clinical management stream.   The new grade structure will also facilitate continuous development in the nursing profession and promote the standard of nursing service, she added.   Prof Chan thanked the authority’s staff for their dedication to serve Hong Kong people and protect their health.

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