Protecting yourself with vaccinations in Hong Kong
With December fast approaching, temperatures are dropping and puffy jacket sightings are becoming increasingly prevalent in Hong Kong. What’s also noticeable is the high amount of people getting sick, which can be unavoidable not only from the sudden change in weather, but also from the population density. To prevent the flu, many people are going to the doctors for their annual influenza vaccination.
Chances of contagion are particularly high in densely populated cities like Hong Kong, so taking extra precautions with regular vaccinations can really save you from potentially contracting a whole host of viruses and diseases that in some cases can even be life threatening. This article on vaccinations sheds light on what you need to know about vaccinations in Hong Kong, and whether or not your insurance plan covers the cost of injections.
Recommended vaccinations in Hong Kong
Let’s face it, most of us don’t find the vaccination process particularly enjoyable, but we all have to endure it at one point or another so that we are protected. Vaccinations are available from most doctors clinics and hospitals in Hong Kong, with a number of schools also offering some of these services to their students.
Although there are no mandatory vaccinations in Hong Kong, there are a number of injections that are highly recommended for prevention against the following:
- Influenza: A highly contagious respiratory tract illness that usually involves a fever, coughing and runny nose. In severe cases, people with influenza may develop pneumonia. Flu vaccines are highly advised for young children and people with chronic conditions.
- Typhoid: A fever contracted from the consumption of Salmonella-contaminated food or water.
- Hepatitis A: This virus causes liver inflammation. There is no chronic infection.
- Hepatitis B: This also affects the liver, and comes with a risk of chronic infection.
- Japanese Encephalitis: This is a mosquito-borne virus with higher mortality rates in children. This vaccination is recommended for anyone spending a considerable amount of time in rural areas.
- Rabies: There have been a reported number of bats found to be carrying rabies in Hong Kong. While this is not a major risk, people who are going to spend a lot of time outdoors in rural areas are advised to be vaccinated for protection against rabies.
- HPV: The HPV vaccine prevents diseases (e.g. cervical cancer) caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The vaccine is highly recommended for women under the age of 26, and is typically recommended for men aged 22 and under.
- Mumps: Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen salivary glands.
If you have young children, you should also consider the following vaccinations against:
- Rotavirus: This virus affects infants and young children, and can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and fever.
- Pneumococcal infection: People infected with the pneumococcus bacteria can develop pneumonia, meningitis, and ear infections. Protection against pneumococcal infection is especially important for infants and children.
- Measles: This highly contagious disease first causes fever, runny nose and red eyes, after which rashes will break out all over the body. Severe cases can lead to pneumonia, brain damage and even death.
If you’re travelling to mainland China, it’s highly advised that you are also aware of what vaccinations you may need there (click here to read up on health information for travellers going to China). Now that you’re aware of the recommended vaccinations in Hong Kong, it’s time to have a look at whether your health insurance includes this type of benefit.
Does your health policy cover vaccinations?
Vaccinations can be expensive, with some private hospitals charging up to HK $6000! If you have a comprehensive Hong Kong health insurance plan with an outpatient/ vaccination benefit, then you should be able to file claims for any vaccinations obtained within the plan’s limit. Vaccinations covered by plans will typically include coverage for the vaccinations mentioned above, as well as for the following:
- Diphtheria: The diphtheria injection will effectively prevent this type of bacterial infection. Symptoms include swollen neck and fever.
- Polio: An infectious disease that, in some cases, can cause muscle weakness and paralysis in the legs.
- Tetanus: Occurring more frequently in hot and humid climate conditions, tetanus is often contracted by accidentally puncturing your skin with rusty metal (where the tetanus bacteria is present). The tetanus infection causes muscle spasms, which may sometimes even last a few months.
- Varicella: This virus causes chickenpox, and most commonly affects children and teenagers.
Things to look out for
It’s always important to be aware of what exactly your plan’s coverage benefits are, as this will differ between plans. For example, some insurers may cap the coverage amount on your vaccination benefit, and depending on your plan, the limit may not be high enough to cover all of your vaccination expenses.
Some plans are more flexible than others, meaning that you will be able to tailor them so that they provide more vaccination benefits for your children, rather than the adults in your family. Some insurers will also impose waiting periods on the vaccination benefit, meaning that there will be a set period of time before you are eligible for making any claims associated with this benefit.
It can be confusing to find a plan that best suits your vaccination needs, as the ideal plan will be different for everyone. If you’re still unsure about whether your plan covers vaccinations, or would like to purchase a plan, feel free to contact us for advice or compare quotes with our free online tool today.
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