Hong Kong officially achieved rubella-free status last Friday as a result of its vaccination drive, according to the World Health Organization Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination for the Western Pacific.

Photo: Pixabay.

There is no treatment for rubella, which mostly affects young adults and children – but it is preventable by vaccination. If a woman contracts the viral infection during pregnancy, it can lead to birth defects or fetal death.

“Rubella elimination exemplifies Hong Kong’s continuous efforts in prevention and control of communicable diseases,” said Hong Kong Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan. “It also highlights the importance of vaccination in preventing disease as well as protecting oneself and the community—over 99 per cent of pre-school children in Hong Kong have received rubella vaccine over the past decade.”

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan at a press conference on September 8, 2020. Photo: Inmediahk.net, via CC 2.0.

WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Takeshi Kasai congratulated the city: “The success of Hong Kong SAR (China) with rubella elimination underscores the importance of strong systems for routine immunization and surveillance for infectious diseases,” he said in a press release.

Two doses of the vaccine provide almost 100 per cent protection against rubella, also known as “German measles.”

The jab is available as part of the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme’s Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Australia, Brunei, Macao, New Zealand, and South Korea are among other territories in the region verified to have eliminated the disease after the a pledge by the 2017 session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.