Over the past few weeks, multiple incidents of measles have been reported at hospitals and airports in Hong Kong, which has fuelled concern about this highly contagious disease that used to be under control. At the time of writing, the number of infections has risen to 43, which has already exceeded the total number of cases reported in the past four years. Group health insurance expert Pacific Prime Hong Kong provide some information about this potentially deadly disease and how insurance can help protect you.
What is Measles and How is it Spread?
Measles is a viral infection of the respiratory system. People infected will first exhibit symptoms such as fever, cough, muscles aches, and white spots inside the mouth, within 14 days of exposure to the virus. These symptoms are then followed by a red blotchy skin rash, which usually spreads from the face to the rest of the body, and can persist for up to three weeks.
Despite these seemingly mild symptoms, it can also result in critical or even fatal complications in the fetus, such as mental disorder and hearing loss, should an unprotected mother contract the virus. In some serious cases, the virus can even spread to other body parts such as the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and brain, resulting in serious consequences and even death. Since the virus lives in the nose and throat mucus of the virus carrier, the disease is usually spread through coughing and sneezing, as well as contact with infected mucus and saliva.
Measles Vaccinations in Hong Kong
First introduced to Hong Kong in 1967, measles vaccinations have been administered to infants born in 1985 or after. Under the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme, children are given the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine at 1 year old and at Primary 1. Therefore, those who attended primary schools were very likely to have received both doses of the vaccine, while theoretically those who were born before 1967 should have had the disease and already developed immunity.
In other words, those who are too young (aged under one) to receive the vaccine and new arrivals from countries with lower vaccination rates are among the high-risk groups for measles.
In light of the recent outbreaks in Hong Kong, the Center for Health Protection (CHP) is also providing 500 daily jabs for people working at the airport. However, for fear that the vaccines may run out, the authority is now arranging to prioritise airport workers who are born in, or after 1967, who have not previously been vaccinated or had the disease. They also have to be living with someone who is pregnant, or have children under the age of one in order to get vaccinated. However, this condition has provoked a strong backlash among airport workers.
One more important thing to note is that vaccinations do not guarantee 100 percent immunity, and there is a chance that the immunity of the person to the virus may drop with the passage of time. Among the 40 cases in Hong Kong this year, five patients have already received two doses of the vaccine.
In light of this, it is best for pregnant women and babies under the age of one to avoid traveling to high-risk areas where the vaccination rate is low. And even if they do, they should undergo an antibody testing and get vaccinated immediately if they find they aren’t immune to the virus.
Does My Health Insurance Plan Cover Measles Vaccinations?
If you have not been administered any measles vaccinations in Hong Kong, you should definitely arrange the jab as soon as possible, especially in light of the high prevalence of the disease lately. While many optional well-being plans do cover certain vaccination benefits, it is advised that you check with your insurance agent/broker beforehand since many plans limit the types of vaccines covered, and the scopes of coverage of different plans can vary immensely.
Furthermore, cover for vaccines is attached with a waiting period in most local insurance plans in Hong Kong, meaning that you will have to wait until a certain time elapses before you can access coverage for this particular benefit.
Insurance terms and conditions are hard to decipher, and the wide range of products available on the market makes it really hard to find the right one on your own. Fortunately, you can now choose to engage the services of an insurance broker like Pacific Prime Hong Kong to tackle this problem. With over 19 years of experience and nine offices across the world, their team of experts can walk you through every step of your insurance journey and match you with the plan that best matches your needs and budget. Contact them today for any insurance questions you have, a no-obligation quote, and a free plan comparison.