Prevent Communicable Diseases
Get Your Child Vaccinated

What is immunisation?

Immunisation is the introduction of vaccines into our bodies so that antibodies will be produced to give us immunity against diseases. Vaccines can be given by mouth or by injection.

Why do children need immunisation?

The reason for immunisation is to decrease the chance of children from getting infectious diseases. Moreover, if the majority of people are immunised and obtain the immunity, infectious diseases will not be easily spread in the community. As a result, the health and lives of individuals and the community are protected.

When should children be immunised?

Immunisation should be started from birth because newborn babies have low resistance and are vulnerable to infectious diseases. As they grow up, for some vaccines, boosters should be given to maintain immunity.

Why do children need boosters?

Immunity produced by some vaccines decreases with time. Hence, booster doses are given at intervals in order to maintain immunity.

What vaccines should children receive and where can they get immunised?

As recommended by the Scientific Committee on Vaccine-preventable Diseases under the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health (DH) in the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme, children from birth to primary six should receive different types of vaccines and boosters to protect them from eleven infectious diseases, namely, tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B, diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis), tetanus, pneumoccal infection, chickenpox, measles, mumps and rubella.

Parents can bring their children from birth to five years of age to any Maternal and Child Health Centre of the DH for immunisation. Inoculators of the DH will visit primary schools to provide immunisation service to school children. Parents may also bring their children to private doctors for immunisation.

Besides the vaccines included in the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme, should children receive other vaccines?

Besides those vaccines recommended by the Department of Health for inclusion in the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme, some private doctors and hospitals may provide other vaccines to protect children from certain infectious diseases. These vaccines include influenza vaccine, Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine, meningococcal vaccine, hepatitis A vaccine and Japanese encephalitis vaccine. Parents should seek advice from private doctors before getting their children immunised.

Can children with mild discomfort or running nose be immunised?

In general, if the child has the above symptoms but appears normal such as eating, playing and sleeping well with normal bowel habit, the child is fit for immunisation. If parents are worried, vaccination may be postponed for a few days in order to have enough time to observe the child's condition. If the child has fever, parents can bring the child to General Out-patient Clinic or private practitioner's clinic first and let the child have immunisation when he/she recovers.

Under what circumstances that immunisation may need to be withheld?

Under certain circumstances, immunisation may need to be withheld or special arrangement is needed. If your child has any of the following condition(s), you should seek medical advice before getting him/her immunised.

  1. Any immunodeficiency conditions:
    1. Congenital immunodeficiency
    2. Leukaemia, cancer
    3. Chronic disease with long-term treatment, e.g. radiotherapy, chemotherapy or taking corticosteroids.
  2. History of serious reaction to a previous vaccine.
  3. History of severe hypersensitivity to any antibiotic or substance.
  4. Other conditions diagnosed by doctors to be unsuitable for immunisation.

If the scheduled date of immunisation is passed or vaccine is missed, what should parents do?

Parents should make an appointment and bring their child to Maternal and Child Health Centre or private practitioner's clinic to receive the missed vaccine as soon as possible.

What will be the reactions after immunisation? How to manage these reactions?

Reactions after immunisation are usually mild. These include fussiness, low-grade fever and slight swelling or soreness around the injection site. Parents may give the child paracetamol (do not use Aspirin), a medicine that helps to reduce pain and fever. Parents may also apply a cool towel onto the sore area to relieve discomfort.

Call your doctor if the reaction persists or becomes worse, e.g.

  • Fussiness lasting for more than 24 hours.
  • Temperature at 40 °C (104°F) or higher.
  • Increasing swelling or soreness over the injection site after 24 hours.

What are the severe adverse reactions? What should parents do?

Severe adverse reactions after immunisation are very rare. These include convulsion and severe allergic reaction to vaccine. Signs and symptoms include paleness, rapid pulse, difficult breathing, skin rash and shock occurring within a few minutes to a few hours after vaccination.

Parents should bring the child to the Accident and Emergency Department immediately for treatment. Parents should tell the doctor about the onset time of the signs and symptoms and the date of receiving vaccine. They should also ask the doctor to write down the reactions on the Child Health Record. This record is important for reference in taking any necessary precautions before getting other vaccinations in future.

After the child has completed the immunisation programme, what should parents do with the immunisation records?

Parents should ensure that their child has received all immunisations including the booster doses as recommended by the Department of Health. All the immunisation records should be kept properly until the child enters adulthood. These serve as documentation of the vaccines received, as well as the date and place of immunisation when the child enrolls into local/overseas school or emigrates abroad.

Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme

AGE IMMUNISATON RECOMMENDED

Newborn

BCG Vaccine
Hepatitis B Vaccine -- First Dose

1 month

Hepatitis B Vaccine -- Second Dose

2 months

DTaP-IPV Vaccine -- First Dose
Pneumococcal Vaccine - First Dose

4 months

DTaP-IPV Vaccine -- Second Dose
Pneumococcal Vaccine -- Second Dose

6 months

DTaP-IPV Vaccine -- Third Dose
Pneumococcal Vaccine -- Third Dose
Hepatitis B Vaccine -- Third Dose

1 year

MMR Vaccine (Measles, Mumps & Rubella) -- First Dose
Pneumococcal Vaccine -- Booster Dose
Varicella Vaccine - First Dose*

1 1/2 years

DTaP-IPV Vaccine -- Booster Dose

Primary 1

MMRV Vaccine [Measles, Mumps, Rubella & Varicella] - Second Dose*
DTaP-IPV Vaccine -- Booster Dose

Primary 6

dTap-IPV Vaccine -- Booster Dose

DTaP-IPV Vaccine: Diphtheria, Tetanus, acellular Pertussis & Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine

dTaP-IPV Vaccine: Diphtheria, Tetanus, acellular Pertussis (reduced dose) & Inactivated Poliovirus vaccine

*Varicella vaccines are incorporated into the Programme for children born on or after 1 Jan 2013. MMR vaccines would continue to be provided to children in Primary 1 who were born before this date.

Remember to arrange follow up of your baby's immunisation programme in your own country if you are leaving Hong Kong.

Please call 24-hour Information Hotline 2112 9900 to access the addresses and telephone numbers of Maternal and Child Health Centres.

For more health information, please call our 24-hour Health Education Hotline (Cantonese, English and Putonghua) at 2833 0111 or visit the website of the Family Health Service, Department of Health at http://www.fhs.gov.hk.

(Content revised 08/2014)