Employment agency representatives in Hong Kong have urged employers worried that their workers may get measles to get them vaccinated as a precaution.

Of the 380,000 overseas domestic workers in Hong Kong, most are not immune to measles, news website HK01.com reported, citing Teresa Liu Tsui-lan, managing director of Technic Employment Service Centre Ltd.

The Philippine government recorded about 15,000 measles cases and 238 deaths from measles as of the end of February. Among the 20 measles cases confirmed so far in Hong Kong, five were imported from the Philippines.

Liu said as the cost to get the vaccination is expensive in the Philippines, she believed that most of the workers in Hong Kong were not immune to measles. She advised employers to ask their workers to get the vaccination before reporting for duty, but the employers should cover the cost of the jabs.

The Hong Kong Center for Health Protection also advised all domestic workers not immune to measles to get an MMR – measles, mumps and rubella – vaccination, preferably before they arrive in Hong Kong. If this is not possible, they should consult a doctor after they have arrived in the city.

However, Joan Tsui Hiu-tung, convenor of the Support Group for Hong Kong Employers, said when employers arrange for workers to get a vaccination before the workers return to the Philippines for holidays, they found that many clinics had run out of the vaccine.

Cheung Kit-man, chairman of the Hong Kong Employment Agencies Association, said if measles cases continue to rise, the association would talk to the Philippine government to arrange vaccinations for workers before they come to Hong Kong, topick.com.hk reported.

Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific employees and staff at public hospitals can receive free measles jabs offered by the airline and the Hospital Authority, Sing Tao Daily reported.

This arrangement came after Ho Pak Leung, a microbiology expert at the University of Hong Kong, called on authorities to plug the health loophole of new immigrants and foreigners not having received measles vaccination, saying there could be a secondary infection in the coming weeks.