Vaccinations are an essential part of preventative healthcare. Not only do they lessen the risk of serious illness, but they also protect us from the complications of vaccine-preventable diseases. However, besides the annual flu shot, many people don’t know what vaccines are available and which ones to get.
Here, we will guide you through the common vaccines you can get in Hong Kong to protect you from certain illnesses. Click the links below to skip through the content:
Quick Note about Hong Kong's Immunisation Schedule:
The Hong Kong government1 provides a specific range of vaccinations against flu and pneumococcal infection to eligible groups of residents, sometimes at a discounted rate. Other more specialised vaccinations may need to be accessed at private clinics, as they are only available there.
Vaccinations Recommended for All Adults
Below is a list of common vaccines an adult may need and brief background information about the vaccine. You can also check with our vaccination calculator.
Annual Flu Vaccine
This flu-prevention vaccine helps the body to develop antibodies to several strains of the flu virus. You should get the flu shot yearly to protect yourself from the different flu strains. The Northern hemisphere vaccine is typically manufactured in time to be available before the Winter flu season. The flu vaccine arrives in Hong Kong in late September or early October and can be given until Easter depending on the local prevelance. You should not get a flu shot if you have a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS)2 or had severe reactions to the flu vaccine.
HPV Vaccine (Gardasil 9)
The HPV vaccine, also known as Gardasil 9, is a vaccine that protects the body against human papillomavirus (HPV)3 that can cause cervical cancer, genital warts and both throat and anal cancer among others. Two doses of the HPV vaccine are recommended for all boys and girls at ages 11–12 but the vaccine can be given as early as 9. If you wait until they’re older, they may need three doses instead of two. HPV vaccination is also recommended for everyone through age 26 years, if not vaccinated already.4
There are different types of tetanus vaccines. According to the CDC, DTaP vaccines are given to young children, in combination with diphtheria, and pertussis and polio vaccines in their vaccination schedules. Tdap vaccines are recommended for preteens around 11-12 years old. Td or Tdap vaccine boosters are advised for adults every 10 years to maintain protection12.
Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine
Measles is a highly infectious disease that can lead to serious consequences in severe cases. Hong Kong adults born between 1967 and 2002 who have not been immunised against measles are eligible for free MMR vaccines under the government’s vaccination programme. However, if you are severely ill or have had an allergy to a previous dose of MMR, consult a doctor before getting the vaccine.
Hepatitis A Vaccine
The Hepatitis A vaccine provides long-term protection against Hepatitis A. The CDC recommends getting the vaccine as a child, but you should also be vaccinated if you risk getting it, such as having a partner with the virus or frequently travelling to countries where it’s common5. You shouldn’t get the vaccine though if you’re suffering from a severe illness or allergic to constituents of the vaccine.
Hepatitis B Vaccine
Hepatitis B vaccine, also known as Engerix B, protects against the hepatitis B virus. Again, the CDC recommends receiving this vaccine as a child, but you should also get it if you are at risk, such as having multiple sexual partners or living with someone with a chronic infection6. Don’t get the vaccine if you suffer from a severe illness or have a history of hypersensitivity to yeast.
Shingles have two vaccines: Shingrix and Zostavax. Both protect against shingles, a viral infection caused by the zoster virus (that also causes varicella).
Pneumococcal vaccination. This vaccine prevents pneumococcal disease and some cases of pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. There are two types of the vaccine (13 and 23 strains). The vaccines are given to children and recommended for those over 50 years old or those with high-risk conditions (such as immunocompromised states, diabetes, chronic heart/liver/lung or kidney disease). Depending on your age and medical history, you must discuss with your doctor if you need to get one or both of these vaccines.7
These are some standard vaccinations for adults, but this isn’t an exhaustive list. Several other vaccines, such as tetanus, varicella and pertussis, are not mentioned here. Ideally, you should speak to your family doctor about your health concerns.
Outbound Travel Vaccinations
Before you travel, it’s also advised that you get vaccinated against specific pathogens that could infect you when you are abroad to protect you and your family’s health. You can read about the vaccinations suggested for travel in our dedicated travel blog. Briefly, at OT&P, we recommend you ask your doctor about the following:
- MenACWY vaccine8 - helps to protect against meningococcal infection. The infection is observed worldwide, but sub-Saharan Africa is the area with the highest risk.
- Yellow Fever Vaccine - recommended for people travelling to some tropical areas of Africa and Latin America.
- Rabies Vaccine - used to prevent rabies an acute central nervous system infection usually caused by a bite, scratch or licked over broken skin by an infected animal.
- Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine - a mosquito-borne disease that infects the brain. The areas most affected are rural and agricultural areas of Asia and the Western Pacific Region.
- Typhoid Fever Vaccine - a serious bacterial infection passed on through contaminated food and drinking water. The vaccination is recommended for individuals travelling to high-risk areas, including countries in South Asia, Africa and Latin America.
If you are unsure which vaccines you need for your trip, discuss your travel plans with your family doctor for accurate recommendations. Learn more about travel health.
Vaccines during Pregnancy
Pregnant women should get vaccinated to protect themselves and the baby. The vaccines also give the baby immunity during the first months of life11. Common vaccinations specifically recommended for pregnant women are:
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, which can be life-threatening especially for newborn babies. According to the CDC, it is recommended to be taken from 27th-36th weeks. To be fathers, grandparents and newborn caretakers also advised a booster. A Pertussis Vaccination Programme for pregnant women in Hong Kong has been launched at Maternal and Child Health Centres (MCHCs) under the Department of Health (DH). The Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases recommends pregnant women receive one dose of acellular pertussis-containing vaccine during each pregnancy as part of routine antenatal care.
Annual Flu Vaccine
Flu, which affects pregnant women due to changes in heart, immune and lung function
Hepatitis B VaccineHepatitis B, which can be spread to the baby during delivery
Pregnant women should consult a doctor for professional advice before getting any vaccinations.
How can OT&P help?
Vaccinations can play an immense role in optimal health, so it’s important to understand what vaccine you should get and when. If unsure, OT&P’s professionals can help you build a tailored vaccination plan for your health needs. Our general practice clinic offers an extensive range of vaccinations for adults, whether they are travelling or looking for preventative health services.
1. Chp.gov.hk. 2019. Centre For Health Protection, Department Of Health - Government Vaccination Programme (GVP) 2019/20. [online] Available at: <https://www.chp.gov.hk/en/features/18630.html> [Accessed 14 April 2020].
2. Healthline. 2019. Who Needs A Flu Shot?. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/flu-shot#who-shouldnt-get-it> [Accessed 14 April 2020].
3.NHS. (n.d.). Human papillomavirus (HPV) - NHS Choices. Retrieved January 7, 2022, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/human-papilloma-virus-hpv/
4. Cdc.gov. 2019. Vaccine for HPV| CDC. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/vaccine.html> [Accessed 13 May 2020].
5. Cdc.gov. 2019. Hepatitis A Information | Division Of Viral Hepatitis | CDC. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/index.htm> [Accessed 14 April 2020].
6. Cdc.gov. 2020. Hepatitis B Information | Division Of Viral Hepatitis | CDC. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hbv/> [Accessed 14 April 2020].
7. CHP.gov.hk. 2019. Frequently asked questions on pneumococcal vacicne [online] Available at: < https://www.chp.gov.hk/en/features/100770.html#FAQ11 > [Accessed 14 May 2020].
9. Cdc.gov. 2020. What everyone should know about Zostavax. | CDC. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/shingles/public/zostavax/index.html> [Accessed 13 May 2020].
10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2019. Vaccines During And After Pregnancy. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pregnancy/vacc-during-after.html> [Accessed 14 April 2020].
11. Cdc.gov. 2020. Tetanus vaccine. | CDC. [online] Available at: <. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/tetanus/index.html> [Accessed 13 May 2020].