Get the lowdown on all the shots and boosters your little one will need.
For first time parents, or parents that are new to a country like Hong Kong, it can feel a bit overwhelming to try and determine what vaccinations your child may need and when they need them, especially because each country is slightly different and may have different requirements. Here in Hong Kong parents are not technically legally required to immunise their children but many schools and nurseries will not admit children who are not fully vaccinated. So where do you go? And what vaccinations are needed for kids in Hong Kong? Public or private sector? Fret not, we have all the details to ensure that your kid gets all the shots and boosters they need.
Editor’s note: Always make sure you check in directly with your health care provider to chat about your child’s health and vaccines.
Why Vaccinations Are Important
Vaccinations have been used for more than 50 years and during that time use has prevented outbreaks of some very serious and contagious diseases, some of which we’ve managed to eradicate completely thanks to our use of vaccinations. There is a lot of potentially misleading information out there on vaccinations for children and ultimately as a parent, you want the best for your kids and their health. It’s okay to want to ask questions but make sure you have a conversation with a health professional that you trust and has expertise enough to give you certified answers.
Sassy Mama worked with Dr. Sophie Doak, a doctor of Viral Immunology, a while back to talk about vaccinations. Her takeaways are:
- Vaccines prevent infectious diseases by stimulating the immune system
Once someone has been vaccinated, their immune system “remembers” the virus/bacteria and knows how to fight it off. Some vaccines require boosters in order to maintain this immunity.
- Vaccines won’t ever give you the disease its aimed at preventing
Vaccines don’t actually use the live infectious virus or bacteria but your body will recognize it all the same.
- Vaccines do not cause Autism
In 1998, Andrew Wakefield published an article falsely linking the MMR (mumps, measle, rubella) vaccination to causing intestinal damage to the nervous system. This paper was retracted in 2004 as it was rejected by all major health organisations and Wakefield was found guilty of medical misconduct.
- Mild side effects are normal
A grouchy kid, sleepless nights and even a high fever are, 99.9% of the time, normal reactions. It’s actually a sign that the vaccination has worked. However, as a parent, you know your child best so seek out medical advice if you’re concerned about any symptoms your child might be experiencing after a vaccination.
- Hong Kong has a similar vaccination schedule to other countries
Such as the UK, Canada, US, and Australia.
- Keeping good immunisation records
Especially if you’re travelling and living between countries or want your kids to attend certain schools as they will be required.
How To Register For Public Vaccinations In Hong Kong
Maternal and Child Health Centres (MCHC) in Hong Kong provide the government recommended immunisations to eligible children up to the age of five for free. In order to get your child vaccinated you need to make an appointment at the MCHC nearest to you and bring a completed Child Health-Service-First form, as well as the following for the initial registration:
- Immunisation record (i.e. injection card)
- Birth identity documents (e.g. birth certificate). For non-local born children, take along valid travel documents for proof of identity.
- If the child’s Hong Kong birth identity or travel documents are not available, then the parents’ valid Hong Kong identity cards or travel documents are required (copies are acceptable).
- Newborn hospital discharge record (i.e. blood report, hearing test result or other medical reports etc.). For subsequent visits, take discharge records of any other hospitalisation or medical certificates of child’s medical problems/illness.
- MCHC Antenatal Registration Card of the mother if applicable. (You can also bring along mother’s antenatal records if you want.) Always carry with you the Child Health Record for other visits.
Once kids are in primary school, the Department of Health (DH) will also provide vaccinations through school outreach programs (see the downloadable below for the full rundown).
Read more: Where To Donate Blood In Hong Kong
Children’s Vaccination Types In Hong Kong
So you know where to get your children’s recommended vaccinations for Hong Kong, but do you know exactly what each is for? Familiarise yourself with this list of the basic vaccinations that children are given through the public scheme up until Primary Six:
- BCG (Bacilli Calmette-Guerin) vaccine – Tuberculosis
This may come as surprise to some expat parents as tuberculosis was largely eradicated in the 1980s in many first world countries, however, tuberculosis still causes a threat to residents in Hong Kong as there are about 4,500 cases here each year. This is a one-time vaccination.
This vaccination stands for all the diseases it covers: Diphtheria, Tetanus, acellular Pertussis (whooping cough) & Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine. This vaccination is similar to the 6-in-1 vaccination given in the UK and Canada but does not include the influenza B vaccination or the hepatitis B vaccine. In general, most countries have a vaccination scheme for kids that cover diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and polio either in a 4-in-1 vaccination or with hepatitis and/or influenza b added to make a 5 or 6-in-1 vaccine. Three doses with two boosters are recommended in Hong Kong.
- Hepatitis B vaccine
Given separately from the DTaP-IPV in Hong Kong, this vaccination is also recommended in the UK, US, and in Canada. Three doses are recommended in Hong Kong.
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV)
Protects against 90 serotypes of pneumococcal bacteria. It’s also known as the pneumonia vaccine. Two doses and a booster are recommended in Hong Kong.
- MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine
The first dose covers these three diseases. The second is combined with the varicella vaccine.
- Varicella Vaccine
The first dose is given at 12 months before being combined with the MMRV vaccine below.
- MMRV (Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Varicella) vaccine
Two doses recommended in Hong Kong.
- Seasonal Influenza Vaccinations
Eligible children between the ages of 6 months and 12 years old can receive influenza vaccines at private hospitals or clinics under the Hong Kong Influenza Vaccination Programme.
- Human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV)
Available for girls Primary 5 age and older. Two doses recommended in Hong Kong.
Recommended Vaccination Schedule For Children In Hong Kong (public system)
Source: Family Health Services (FHS)
Private Sector Options for Children’s Vaccinations in Hong Kong
If you have a good insurance policy and want to go through the private sector for all or some of your kid’s vaccinations there are lots of paid options and sometimes even vaccination packages that can be purchased at clinics. Here are just a few of the private hospital and clinic options available in Hong Kong for children’s vaccinations.
$20,800 Package (ages 0-2 years), $6,990-8,990 Package (ages 2-5 years)
No package offered. $1,200 consult fee per visit, excluding the cost of vaccinations.
No package offered. $230-330 HKD consult fee per visit, excluding the cost of vaccinations.
The paediatric vaccination package is currently priced at $14,300 (usually $16,000)
$16,200 HKD Package (ages 0-18 months)
Packages available from $10,500 to $16,000
No package offered. $530-680 HKD consult fee per visit, excluding the cost of the vaccinations.
No package offered. $900-1,500 consult fee per visit, excluding the cost of vaccinations.
No package offered. $590 and up for the consult fee per visit, excluding the cost of vaccinations.
No package offered. $1,050 consult fee per visit, excluding the cost of vaccinations.
No package offered. $180-370 consult fee per visit, excluding the vaccinations.
No package offered. $180-370 consult fee per visit, excluding the vaccinations.
Package offered for ages 0-2 years. General consult fee for Pediatrics $700-2,000.
General International Vaccination Recommendations for Children
Most of Hong Kong’s vaccinations will bring you up to date with other countries’ requirements but be sure to cross-reference and seek out any additional vaccinations through the private sector in Hong Kong to make sure that your kid is covered in your home country (states/provinces sometimes have different recommendations as well). Some examples of vaccinations not covered under the public sector but ones that you can get privately include but aren’t limited to, Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine, meningococcal vaccine, hepatitis A vaccine, Japanese encephalitis vaccine, rotavirus vaccine and other combinations.
- Australia Vaccination Recommendations
- Canada Vaccination Recommendations
- UK Vaccination Recommendations
- USA Vaccination Recommendations