Hong Kong health officials said on Thursday that they planned to stockpile a large amount of swine-flu vaccines left unused after people shunned the free jabs because of safety concerns.

Health Secretary York Chow said they would not be giving away or selling the vaccines and instead planned to stockpile them as insurance against a future outbreak.

So far, 1,50,421 doses from a stock of 3 million, which expire in October, have been used.

The announcement came after injections of the vaccine reached a record daily low Wednesday with 1,100 people being vaccinated.

Chow said officials had expected some degree of wastage when they ordered 3 million doses of the Sanofi Pasteur vaccine for the city of 7 million.

“If there is no severe outbreak of the pandemic and if there is no high demand for it, of course, some of them will not be used at all,” he said. “It is important that I have mentioned time and again that this is an insurance to ensure that in times of need, we actually have the supply.” The vaccine has been offered free to high-risk groups, including health workers, pregnant women, babies and the elderly.

However, the response has been lukewarm and deteriorated as health concerns grew after two people had seizures and two pregnant women had stillborn babies after receiving the vaccine.

Chow has urged people in vulnerable groups to continue having the vaccines, saying there was no proven link between the cases and the flu jabs.