Following is the transcript of remarks made by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, at a stand-up media session at the West Wing lobby of Central Government Offices today (November 5) :
Reporter: Who will perform the inoculation of human swine flu vaccine? Regarding the discovery of human swine flu virus in pigs, is pork still safe for consumption?
Secretary for Food and Health: First of all, the details of the vaccination programme will be announced later this month.We probably will be using mostly the public resources, particularly our clinics and services of the Hospital Authority and the Department of Health right now.We should be also approaching the private sector to see in what capacity they can help us.Regarding the infection of pigs recently, first of all, it has been proven that this virus can be transmitted from humans to pigs in different countries, including Canada and United States as well as now in Hong Kong, and also reported on the same day is a case in Taiwan as well.We feel that this is actually not a new discovery, it is something that is already well established.It is not unusual.There is no additional risk to our population because I think human infection is already spreading in the community.As far as the eating of pork is concerned, I can reassure that pork is very safe especially when you eat pork, you usually cook them and the virus will be killed under a temperature of 70 degree Celsius or above.There is no worry of eating pork at all.
Reporter: Is it still safe to use Auxiliary Medical Service (AMS) staff for inoculation?
Secretary for Food and Health: We have not decided exactly the capacity of AMS in the whole programme.Of course, we will be using mostly our public resources, the existing resources in our public clinics.
Reporter: (about human swine flu vaccine)
Secretary for Food and Health: Our contract with Sanofi Pasteur S.A.will be based on what they have bid so far.We can be pretty assured that the vaccine will be arriving at the time that is being promised.
Reporter: Why not including young people in the vaccination programme?
Secretary for Food and Health: Regarding the group of young people, this is also the group that we think even though they may have susceptibility for infection, the chance of them developing into serious infection and also complication including mortality is much lower than the other groups.This is balancing the benefits of vaccination.We believe the five groups that I have mentioned should be vaccinated first.
Reporter: Is December too late for Hong Kong?
Secretary for Food and Health: Our flu season is usually about two months later than the other countries that are giving vaccination right now.We are roughly following the same type of pattern.We are also observing other countries as well.As I have mentioned earlier, normally our two peaks are separated apart for quite a long period.Summer peak is usually in July and August, but this year it extends to almost the end of September and early October.If our second peak starts at the same time, it will be around about February and March next year.But we are also preparing just in case it comes in January, we are still vaccinating the groups at risk much earlier in December instead.
Reporter: Will you have the shot yourself?
Secretary for Food and Health: I do not belong to the age group, but I consider myself partially a medical worker.In order to encourage all medical workers to have vaccination, I believe Ill have my vaccination first.
(Please also refer to the Chinese session of the transcript)