The government has been urged to improve its influenza vaccination programme by supplying local kindergartens with flu jabs, instead of leaving them to scramble for vaccines in the open market.
The Hong Kong Early Childhood Educators Association made the call on Sunday, after reporting that more than 20 percent of students did not get a flu jab this year.
Currently, kindergartens and daycare centres can join a government outreach programme for doctors to give the jabs on campus, though the medics have to find their own vaccines.
Local primary schools have a similar arrangement, but the Department of Health directly provides the jabs needed.
Of 160 kindergarten teachers interviewed by the association, more than 80 percent said this arrangement clearly neglects the younger children.
Speaking at a press conference joint held by early childhood educators and some doctors, infectious disease expert Joseph Tsang said doctors are stressed out by the additional workload of trying to find enough vaccines for the kids.
Association president Rosa Chow said kindergartens just want to be treated the same as primary schools.
“Our difficulties lie in the lack of a good mechanism. Frontline staff have to find [vaccines] through providers or nearby doctors. Or they have to ask school sponsors if they know which hospitals can help,” she said.
“Some school masters told me they booked vaccines that never arrived. And some organisations who said they would provide one type of vaccine, provided another type in the end,” Chow added.
“Eighty percent of teachers asked whether a mechanism could be put in place, similar to primary schools, so kindergarten teachers don’t have to ask doctors,” she said.
A kindergarten principal also said he’s worried that after classes resume, there might be a flu outbreak among those who weren’t able to secure a jab.
All child care centres, kindergartens have been closed, and primary one to three classes have been suspended following outbreaks of upper respiratory tract infections in some schools, and a spike in Covid-19 infections in the city.