Hong Kong expands coronavirus vaccination programme to those aged under 30; BioNTech centres to close in September

16-Apr-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 7:53 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong will allow those aged under 30 to start booking their Covid-19 jabs next week in an expansion of the city’s vaccination programme, the government has announced.

Top officials on Thursday also revealed Hong Kong would not be acquiring a third type of vaccine this year, as they urged residents with a preference for the BioNTech version to get their first shot by the end of August, before the closure of the city’s 29 community vaccination centres in late September.

The announcement of the scheme’s expansion came as the city confirmed six new coronavirus cases. Of the two locally transmitted infections, one was untraceable. The rest were imported from France, India, Italy and the Philippines.

Under the expanded programme, residents aged 16 or above would be able to receive the German-made BioNTech doses, while those older than 18 could opt for the mainland China-produced Sinovac vaccine, civil service chief Patrick Nip Tak-kuen told a press conference.

“We have received feedback from different people hoping the government includes young people aged 30 or younger [into the scheme],” said Nip, who oversees the city’s vaccination programme.

“If some of their family members could not be vaccinated due to physical conditions such as chronic diseases that have not come under control, vaccinated younger members could build a protection net to protect older and weaker people.”

Opening up the Covid-19 vaccinations scheme to the 1.08 million Hong Kong residents aged between 16 and 29 takes the total number of people eligible in the city to 6.5 million, amounting to 88 per cent of its population.

Currently, only those aged 30 and above are allowed to receive a jab through the scheme, although younger people can if they belong to groups such as health care workers, teachers and restaurant staff.

All of those in the younger age group will be able make appointments online from next Friday to receive the shots at one of the city’s community vaccination centres and general outpatient clinics.

BioNTech vaccination slots must be booked at least two days in advance, while it is possible to secure a Sinovac appointment for the very next day.

Those aged 18 or above only need to present their identity documents to get vaccinated, but 16 or 17 year olds require parental consent. A template for a parental consent form is available on the government’s website.

Three more community vaccination centres will be providing BioNTech jabs: Tseung Kwan O Sports Centre, Yau Oi Sports Centre in Tuen Mun and Osman Ramju Sadick Memorial Sports Centre in Kwai Chung.

The move reverts those three centres back to BioNTech ones, after they were previously flipped to Sinovac to meet public demand for those jabs.

Two of the centres in Tseung Kwan O and Tuen Mun will begin offering the BioNTech vaccine on April 20, while also administering a small number of Sinovac doses until April 30.

“During this transition period of around two weeks, these two centres would have designated zones for different vaccines,” Nip said.

The Kwai Chung centre will start providing the German-manufactured jabs on May 1, at which point there will be 24 BioNTech and five Sinovac community vaccination venues in the city.



Category: Hong Kong

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