Last updated on August 27, 2021.
Looking for the measles vaccine (MMR) in Hong Kong? Supply of vaccines in Hong Kong can get scarce, and the measles vaccine has been not exception. The Healthy Matters team has done all the research for you so you don’t have to. Here is everything about the measles vaccine in Hong Kong: where to find it and how much it costs.
How serious is the measles outbreak?
During the first four months of 2019, measles cases have reached historic highs all over the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are 300% more cases than last year at the same period.
The WHO reminds us of the seriousness of this highly contagious disease. Non-immunized people who are in contact with an infected one will have a 90% chance of contracting measles. Its threat does not lie in its symptoms per se, but mainly because of the complications arising from it. In 2017, measles caused around 110,000 deaths globally.
To know everything about measles: symptoms, treatments and prevention, check our comprehensive guide:
The measles outbreak in Hong Kong
What makes this global outbreak different is the fact that it is happening in countries where the overall vaccination coverage is very high, such as the United States, Thailand or Israel.
Hong Kong used to have a very low rate of measles cases in the past few years. In 2016, the World Health Organisation even stated that Hong Kong had “achieved the interruption of endemic measles virus transmission“. This means that Hong Kong did not have any local contamination for at least 36 months.
However Hong Kong was no exception and did not escape the global trend in 2019. According to the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection, there has been 67 measles cases as of early May, and among them 29 were for staff related to Hong Kong airport. The contamination was mainly due to external factors.
Why is the measles vaccine (MMR) important
Measles can be tackled almost entirely through vaccination. Two doses are necessary to achieve almost complete immunisation. The first dose is 90 to 95% effective and the second one is 97% effective. It takes around 14 days after the MMR vaccination for the body to develop antibodies.
Measles vaccination (MMR) in Hong Kong
Since 1967, the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme has implemented measles vaccination in Hong Kong, but is is only in 1996 that the “two-dose regimen” was incorporated to ensure better protection.
In Hong Kong, the measles vaccination used to be done for children at one year old and another dose in Primary One (around 6 years old). However, due to the recent outbreak, the Hong Kong Department of Health has decided to move forward the age of the second dose, to 18 months. This early vaccination aligns Hong Kong with other places such as Europe or Australia.
Shortage of the measles vaccine (MMR) in Hong Kong
Due to the current measles outbreak, Health Secretary Sophia Chan stated that the supply of the MMR vaccine is very tight. Therefore, it is currently given to people who are the most at risk. Most of the clinics have opened waiting list, organizing people according to their needs.
How to know if you need the measles vaccine (MMR)*?
For young children → They should get the MMR vaccine at the age of 1 year-old and 18th months.
For people who have already had measles → They are immune and do not need the MMR vaccine.
For Hongkong people:
➤ Born before 1967 → Majority have contracted measles in the past and are therefore immune.
➤ Born between 1967 and 1977 → May have received just one dose of MMR vaccine, and should ask for a second one.
➤ Born between 1978 and 1984 (Special Measles Vaccination Campaign of the Government in 1997) →
If joined: They should have received two doses of measles vaccine.
If not joined: They may have only received one dose of measles vaccine and should ask for a second one.
➤ Born in 1985 or after → They should have received two doses of measles vaccine.
Others → People who do not know if they had it or if they got vaccinated should make an appointment with their GP in order to do a blood test. It will let them know whether they need to do the MMR vaccine.
*Be aware that pregnant women cannot have the MMR vaccine.
Measles vaccine for Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong
Currently, there are more than 300,000 domestic helpers in Hong Kong, mainly from the Philippines and Indonesia. With the recent outbreak of measles in Hong Kong, many have shown concern about this highly infectious disease for helpers and children alike. Therefore as of March 2019, the Centre for Health Protection has approached various employment agencies dealing with hiring and managing domestic helpers in Hong Kong to encourage measles vaccination. It is not compulsory for domestic helpers to take it, however many microbiologists and doctors have agreed that the government should make it compulsory for anyone coming to Hong Kong to work to provide evidence that they are protected from measles. In practice many domestic helpers would try to get the measles vaccine (MMR) in the public sector however as mentioned below, there is a shortage in both private and public sectors and it is only available for children (in public MCHC). Therefore, it is suggested for domestic helpers to take the MMR vaccine before their arrival in Hong Kong in their respective home countries. It has been reported that in the Philippines it is more common to take the Measles and Rubella (MR) vaccine instead of the MMR vaccine, however the availability is also scarce.
On April 26th, it was announced that the Department of Health started providing measles vaccination for Filipino domestic helpers who are coming or returning to work at the Hong Kong International Airport, limited to 200 vaccinations. A hotline (2125 1122) has been set up for public enquiries.
Where to find the measles vaccine in Hong Kong? How much does it cost?
We have done all the research for you, see below. Important note: as of May 7, there is a major shortage of MMR vaccine in Hong Kong. The Healthy Matters Team will keep researching for you. Just leave your email address below if you wish to be notified when it becomes available.
1. measles vaccine in public sector
In Hong Kong, children receive a two-dose course of measles vaccination under the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme. The MMR vaccine can be obtained in Hong Kong’s Public Maternal and Child Health Centres (MCHC). You can find a list of all the MCHCs and public vaccine costs in Hong Kong here. If you are eligibile (you have a HKID holder), the MMR vaccine is free of charge.
As of May 7, all MCHCs in Hong Kong have the first dose of the MMR vaccine available (only for children). The second dose is not available.
The Healthy Matters team has checked with public hospitals in Hong Kong and it was confirmed that there all of them are currently out of stock of the MMR vaccine as of May 8, 2019.
2. Measles vaccine in private sector
*Excluding consultation fees
Is the measles vaccine (MMR) covered by my health insurance in Hong Kong?
Considering the current shortage and how expensive the measles vaccine has become, you should know whether your health insurance covers vaccination. According to Alea, some comprehensive health insurance plans in Hong Kong cover vaccinations and you would be able to claim reimbursement for the measles vaccine. It is important to note however that vaccination reimbursements are usually capped to an annual limit and that there may be a waiting period to complete before you can start claiming for this particular benefit. If you have any health insurance questions, contact Alea‘s healthcare and health insurance advisors at [email protected].
|This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and not sponsored. It is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.|