Health officials assure flu shot still safe

Dr Alvis Lo and Dr Leong Iek Hou, officials from the government’s Novel Coronavirus Reponse and Coordination Center, said at yesterday’s weekly press briefing that despite recent incidents concerning influenza shots in Korea, it is still safe to get vaccinated in Macau.
Recently, in South Korea, 59 people died after getting vaccinated for influenza. Although the country has chosen to carry on with the nationwide vaccination plan, Singapore has announced that it would suspend two vaccines from being administered in the country for the time being.
One of the vaccines in question, manufactured by French company Sanofi, is also used in Macau. When questioned whether Macau will follow Singapore’s decision on halting the vaccination, Leong said there is not enough evidence to prove that the deaths are causally related to the flu shots in question.
The Sanofi-branded shots make up half of the world’s flu shot market, and “suspending the use in Macau may cause a great problem,” Leong said.
Moreover, the medical doctor explained that although Macau is using this particular type of vaccine, those in Macau have different batch numbers from those used in Korea.
According to Leong, the deceased were administered vaccines from 37 different batches, made by seven different manufacturers. No specific commonality pointing to specific medical facilities has been discovered. Therefore, “the Korean [investigation] found the probability of quality problems or procedural mistakes [that caused the deaths to be] quite low,” Leong added.
She went on to encourage people to get the flu shot. “The vaccine can prevent risks of side complications or death if flu is contracted,” Leong said. Members of the population in an elevated risk category, “specifically senior and junior residents, the overweight, and the pregnant, should get the shot as early as possible.”
Lo said that the risks associated with not getting the shot may be even higher for at-risk groups of people. “Due to their weaker immune systems,” Lo explained, “their risks of flu-related complications may be even higher.”
Leong explained that the Korean authorities have analyzed 46 out of the 59 deaths. A history of chronical illness, such as cardiovascular or cerebrovascular diseases, were present in many of the cases. They have also concluded the cause of death for the 46 deceased included arrhythmia, chronic lung disease, liver cirrhosis and tumors. As a result, Leong believes that it is difficult to draw a line between the flu shot and the deaths.
Gov’t mask sale enters 23rd round
The Coronavirus Response Center has announced that the centralized mask sale will enter its 23rd round this coming Thursday. This round of sales will end on November 27.
In this round, the arrangements will be mostly unchanged, although the office in San Kio District of the General Union of Neighborhood Associations of Macau will be dropping out. A total of 84 points of sale will remain in this round.
The Women’s General Association of Macau will implement adjustments to their operation hours. The Government Health Center at São Lourenço will cease operation on October 31 and be replaced by the new facility near the São Lourenço Market on November 3.
Children’s masks will only be available at government health centers.
Following Qingdao in Shandong Province, Kashgar of Xinjiang Province has been included on the Health Bureau’s list of risky areas. People who have been to these two places in the preceding two weeks will now be required, upon arrival in Macau, to undergo quarantine at the designated hotels.
Due to still uncertain conditions, the health authorities have no plans to ease restrictions concerning entrants from Hong Kong for the time being, despite the city’s low infection rate in recent days.

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