Facebook is set to launch a campaign to encourage Hong Kong people to get their coronavirus jab in what has been described as an initiative to support efforts by city’s health authorities to increase the vaccination rate.

The campaign will introduce two new features on the platform — one to facilitate more convenient vaccination bookings and another to encourage others to be vaccinated.

Facebook vaccine
Photo: Facebook.

Users of the social media platform will be informed of who is eligible for a vaccination and be directed to a government site to locate a nearby vaccination provider. Private clinics as well as general out-patient clinics have been administering the vaccines in conjunction with the government’s community vaccination centres since late February.

The platform will also introduce new profile picture options to share a user’s vaccination status with their Facebook community. New filters include the phrases “I got my Covid-19 vaccine!” and “Let’s get vaccinated!”

“Studies have shown that social norms have a significant impact on people’s attitudes and behaviour related to health,” a statement read. “In order to make vaccinations more popular, Facebook will help users share the news that they have been vaccinated with others on the platform, and let them know that people they respect and care about have also been vaccinated.”

Members of the public have already been announcing their vaccination status on social media plaforms, with many sharing “vaccination selfies” on Twitter under the hashtag “HKTwitterGetsVaxxed.”

facebook vaccine profile
Photo: Facebook.

“As one of Hong Kong’s most-used social platforms, we are very happy to work with the Department of Health to make it easier for the public to obtain information about vaccines and how to receive vaccinations, and to more easily share their support for vaccination with others,” Facebook’s publicity manager for the region said.

The platform will be promoting the new features on the top of its news feed in the coming few weeks.

It also said it was committed to providing reliable and accurate information on the pandemic. At the end of May, it announced it had removed over 18 million pieces of misinformation about the coronavirus from its platform from the past year.

Hong Kong is the third region in the world to offer the Covid-19 features, after the US and India.

Vaccine incentives

Facebook’s initiative is the latest in a string of campaigns launched by private companies in Hong Kong in an attempt to encourage people to become vaccinated against Covid-19 as part of a government-led push announced last Monday.

The government has appealed to the city’s businesses to issue incentives to boost vaccination uptake before September, when a batch of the German-manufactured Pfizer BioNtech vaccines are set to expire and the city’s 27 community vaccination centres will cease operations.

Carrie Lam Sophia Chan Patrick Nip Covid-19 vaccination
Chief Executive Carrie Lam and government officials attend a press conference on Covid-19 vaccination on May 31,2021. Photo: GovHK.

The city has seen a slow uptake of vaccines during its free, city-wide scheme launched at the end of February, despite having purchased enough vaccines to inoculate its entire population of 7.5 million. Only around 20 per cent of people eligible for the vaccine have received their first dose as of Monday.

Over HK$100 million worth of prizes and vouchers have been announced by private companies to incentivise vaccinations, according to Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday.

The city’s flagship airline Cathay Pacific has launched a lucky draw with prizes including the chance to host a private party on their newest aircraft and 20 million Asia Miles points. The Hong Kong Association of Banks has also announced a raffle for prizes totalling HK$100,000.

Cathay Pacific plane grounded travel airplane
Photo: GovHK.

Other incentives include lucky draws for up to 50,000 free flights organised by the Hong Kong Airport Authority and a Tesla from the Goodman Group.

Vaccines are currently available to people aged 16 and above, with plans to lower the age to 12 in the coming weeks.

Correction 09.06.21: A previous version of this article stated the new profile filters read “I have been vaccinated!” and “Go get your jab!” The phrases have been updated with Facebook’s official English versions.

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Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.