HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong is to limit the number of non-resident children getting vaccinations at government clinics, after an illegal vaccine scandal in mainland China raised fears some families would come to the city for inoculations and put pressure on supplies.
From April 1, Hong Kong’s Maternal and Child Health Centres will only accept 120 new non-resident children a month. Non-resident children will only be able to book an appointment when there is spare capacity and will have to pay a higher fee.
“The government’s policy is to accord priority to local children,” Hong Kong’s Assistant Director of Health for Family and Elderly Health Services, Teresa Li, said in a statement.
“We will closely monitor the utilization of services by (non-resident children) and may adjust the quota or withhold new case bookings.”
Mainland Chinese authorities said this month a mother and daughter had illegally traded nearly $90 million worth of vaccines and sold them on to hundreds of re-sellers around the country, prompting an outcry from parents and political leaders.
The vaccines, which police said were made by licensed producers, were not kept refrigerated, meaning they could be ineffective.
Hong Kong would order additional vaccine supplies if needed, another spokeswoman there said.
The Macau government said in a statement on Tuesday that only Macau residents were entitled to free vaccinations and government-procured routine vaccinations would not be given to visitors.
Hong Kong, a free-wheeling financial hub and former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with wide-ranging autonomy.
Reporting by Twinnie Siu and Clare Baldwin; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Nick Macfie
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