HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Hong Kong will limit the number of non-resident children getting vaccinations at government-run 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 getting vaccinations per month between its 31 clinics. Non-resident children will also 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 on Wednesday (March 30).
"We will closely monitor the utilisation of services by (non-resident children) and may adjust the quota or withhold new case bookings."
Hong Kong would also order additional vaccine supplies if needed, another spokeswoman said.
Mainland Chinese authorities said this month a mother and daughter had illegally traded nearly US$90 million (S$121 million) worth of vaccines and sold them on to hundreds of re-sellers around the country, prompting an angry 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, a free-wheeling financial hub and former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with wide-ranging autonomy.