|Welcome back! |
We hope everyone had a great summer and made the most of the opportunity to travel without restrictions once again! Meanwhile, in Hong Kong the return to school and work has coincided with the return of the dreaded flu virus. Influenza had been largely absent for the past three years because of all the precautions we took with the Covid pandemic, but it made a significant comeback in April 2023 and looks like it is on the rise once again (as the graph below shows). At the end of August, the CHP announced that HK was entering the summer flu season (in HK we typically have two flu seasons, the first from Jan – March/April, and the second from July – August).
What can we do about the flu?
The short answer is getting vaccinated ASAP. Delaying the vaccine until later in the year makes little sense given that the flu is so active right now and can affect even healthy individuals. We recommend that everyone aged 6 months or above, except those with known contraindications, receive one of the following vaccines:
1. VaxigripTetra – a quadrivalent inactivated influenza vaccine, which contains four inactivated parts of the influenza virus. It is licensed for children above 6 months of age and adults. This is also the best option for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.
2. Flumist (available in October 2023) – a weakened live virus is sprayed into the nostril, ideal for children above 2 years of age who are needle-phobic, but also licensed for adults up to 49 years old. Due to the use of live virus, this vaccine is not recommended for people with a weakened immune system and recent history of wheezing.
3. Flublok (available in October 2023) – a newer vaccine which uses DNA recombinant technology to reproduce DNA particles that mimic the influenza A+B strains. Flublok is licensed for people aged 18 and above, and studies show it is particularly effective in protecting those above the age of 65. Please see your usual doctor to decide which of these vaccines is most appropriate for you and your family. If you have recently had the flu, it is still worth getting vaccinated as this will protect you from other strains of the virus, and will also offer a level of protection should you happen to get the flu at the same time as another respiratory illness, such as Covid or RSV.If you think you might have the flu, our GPs and paediatricians can see you on the same day with rapid flu tests and treatments. Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) is an effective anti-viral for children and adults, and there are no reports of resistance to this or other relevant flu medications this year.
Covid 19 endures
There is understandable fatigue with endless updates on the Covid 19 situation. The reality is that a slow and steady stream of infections exists in the community. The latest data shows a rising trend and it is safe to assume further increases over the winter months.
What can we do about Covid?
As of September 2023, up to 80% of the HK population have had at least 3 shots of a Covid vaccine. Three doses of the vaccine should be effective in protecting most people from severe infection. For many of us though, our last booster might have been quite a while ago, so some may choose to get an additional booster either now or in the near future.
At Central Health we continue to stock Sinovac only from the HKSAR government to help protect vulnerable groups. If you are a HK citizen, and belong to one of these priority groups (as outlined in this link), you are entitled to a free booster. If you are not in one of the priority groups, you can still get the Sinovac or BioNTech vaccine at your own expense from an available clinic.
You may also have heard that here are now newly formulated mRNA vaccines available. Last week, the US FDA authorised updated versions of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, which have been formulated to target the XBB. 1.5 variant of Covid-19. Although XBB.1.5 now accounts for a minority cases, a vast majority of the circulating variants are its close relatives. The new vaccines appear to be effective against all of them. Hong Kong should be receiving stocks of the Moderna booster in the next couple of weeks, and we will update you once this happens.
In the USA, the CDC have recommended this new booster for everyone older than six months, with a couple of exceptions – anyone who has recently had Covid-19 can wait three months to get the updated booster, and anyone who was recently boosted should wait two months before getting the new shot.It is expected that other countries will soon follow suit with their own recommendations for this new booster. For full details on the current recommendation from the Centre for Health Protection, please see the attached guideline.
If you think you have Covid-19, remember that treatment is available. Our doctors can offer video assessment or in person consultation using one of our isolation rooms. Anti-viral medications work best when taken soon after symptoms begin, and can help reduce the severity of illness including long Covid.
New Staff Joining
Dr Harriet Stuart-Clarke is returning with her husband who has been relocated back to London to take up a more senior role. We will all miss Harriet, her enthusiasm for medicine, her humour and her quirky dress sense. We wish her all the best continuing her medical career in the U.K. We know she will be a great success and the NHS is very lucky to get her back!
We are fortunate that we had planned to expand our general practice services to cover more bank holidays and so had recruited Dr Dede Chan over a year ago. Dede trained in the U.K. and is a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners. She speaks fluent English, Cantonese, Swedish and Mandarin.
Upcoming Public Holidays
We are pleased to announce that Central Health will be open from 9:30am to 12:30pm on the following public holidays:
– 30th September
– 2nd October
– 23rd October
Breast Cancer Awareness Month, time to get screened
October is breast cancer awareness month and we urge all women to think about when they last had a breast checkup or scan. Women over 40 or those with a risk factor such as a strong family history are of particular importance to screen. In case you needed further incentive, Prestige Medical Imaging Centre is providing a 30% reduction in all breast screening options when ordered by one of our doctors in the month of October. This includes mammograms and ultrasound scans. Talk to your GP or OBGYN if you want to take advantage of this promotion and screen for breast cancer in October.
A reminder that we are offering Central Health patients the option to connect with us via Imunis, an online platform enabling patients to store and manage digital copies of their and their family’s vaccine records. Imunis has been co-developed with Central Health, with the specific goals of keeping patients and doctors up to date and on track with vaccination, allowing patients to play a more participatory role in their healthcare.
The platform is open & relevant to adults as well as children, and will allow you to download records associated with vaccinations taken at Central Health plus any records you may have shared with us. To enrol, simply click the button below, complete the form and look out for an invitation from one of our team to join the Imunis platform.
Enrol Now via Central Health
Central Health Team
Updates from Central Health Sep 2023
- September 20, 2023