Hong Kong is expanding its Covid-19 vaccination programme to those aged under 30, the government announced on Thursday.
People between the ages of 16 to 29 will be able to register for a jab from next Friday onwards, Secretary for the Civil Service, Mr Patrick Nip told the press.
The expansion opens the vaccination programme up to 1.08 million more people. The entire vaccination programme will soon cover around 80 per cent of Hong Kong’s total population.
Residents aged over 16 will be able to receive the BioNTech vaccination whilst over 18s can choose between BioNTech and Sinovac jab. Those under the age of 18 will be required to show proof of parent’s consent – a template will be available on the government’s website.
Around 318,700 people have been fully vaccinated in Hong Kong as of Wednesday evening.
“For the vaccination programme, we are now in the home stretch,” Nip said. “It’s for everybody to take Hong Kong out of the pandemic so I encourage everybody to take the vaccine as soon as possible for their own sake and their family’s sake.”
Nip added that the government will also provide more information on vaccine safety on their website, including more information on adverse reaction cases and other safety monitoring reports, in a bid to encourage greater public confidence in the vaccine.
Centres to switch vaccines
Nip also announced that the community vaccination centres administering BioNTech will terminate at the end of September, citing the limited supply and difficult storage requirements for the European-manufactured vaccine. People who wish to receive the BioNTech vaccine at community centres must take their first dose in August at the latest.
Two centres that were originally administering Sinovac vaccines will begin to administer BioNTech vaccines from next Tuesday onwards. Tseung Kwan O and Yau Oi sport centres will begin to offer the BioNtech, but will continue to administer Sinovac to people who have already made appointments over a two week transitional period.
Meanwhile, the Osman Ramju Sadick Memorial Sports Centre in Kwai Fong will also begin to administer the BioNTech vaccine from May 1.
The announcement brings the total number of centres offering BioNTech vaccines next month to 24, while five other centres will continue to administer the Sinovac vaccine.
The BioNTech vaccine will remain available at private clinics and general out-patient clinics after September.
Nip called on the public to get vaccinated: “We appeal to the public to take the vaccine as soon as possible so Hong Kong won’t fall into the vicious cycle of wave after wave of outbreak.”
Hong Kong ordered the US-German Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through Fosun Pharma, a Shanghai-based pharmaceutical company. It was approved for emergency use in January. The government then approved the emergency use of Chinese-made Sinovac on February 18, with the first million doses of vaccines arriving in Hong Kong a day later.
The authorities have said that its order for the AstraZeneca vaccine – developed jointly with Oxford University – has been suspending for the time being. The government had contracted to procure 7.5 million doses of each three vaccine types last December.
Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan announced earlier this week the government is looking into purchasing doses of a new generation of vaccines to better protect against mutant strains of the virus.
More to follow.