Hong Kong has introduced new measures to allow for greater vaccination uptake by launching “same-day ticket” arrangements for people aged 70 and over and extending quotas for vaccinations bookings.
The new arrangements to allow the elderly to receive “on-the-day” Covid-19 vaccinations begins on Thursday. Tickets will be handed out from 7:45 am at 24 of the city’s public community vaccination centre (CVC) on a first-come, first-serve basis.
A total of 4,600 tickets will be distributed daily, around 200 per centre. Centres in Tung Chung and the Hong Kong International Airport will only distribute 100 tickets per day.
“We hope that this arrangement can further enable the elderly to get vaccinated. As the same-day tickets will be distributed daily, it is not necessary for elderly persons to queue up at CVCs too early for a ticket,” a government spokesperson said.
The arrangements may be extended to people aged 60 and over depending on demand.
People aged 70 and over will need to provide a valid Hong Kong identity card. Authorised carers and family members may also queue up for the tickets on their behalf.
The changes come at the recommendations of a government medical expert panel.
“The elderly are the group with the highest risks of complications and death from Covid-19,” a government statement read, saying the vaccines were “highly recommended” for the elderly.
“Experts recommend that all elderly people who have previously received influenza vaccines can safely receive Covid-19 vaccines. If the elderly have chronic diseases, they should get vaccinated as soon as possible for protection when the condition is stable,” the statement continued.
Booking slots for vaccinations will also be expanded to four weeks into the future from 9am on Wednesday, with plans to increase vaccination quotas within the week.
“Currently, the appointment quotas for seven days involve about 400 000 vaccination doses. The government will, in response to the booking situation, make suitable adjustments to the booking period accordingly,” the statement read.
The city reported one new imported case on Tuesday, continuing a 50-day streak with no community infections.
Meanwhile, a new study released on Sunday has found that anti-bodies created by China’s Sinovac vaccine decrease below a key threshold after six months, according to a Reuters report.
The study, conducted by a Chinese lab and not peer-reviewed, found only 35.2 per cent of people fully vaccinated four weeks apart had detectable antibodies. The percentage was 16.9 for participants who had been vaccinated two weeks apart.
It is unclear what the findings mean for the jab’s effectiveness as scientists don’t yet know the threshold of antibodies needed to prevent the virus. The researchers said people be vaccinated by two shots of the vaccine should be a priority “in the short-to-medium term.”
The report comes as the international vaccine sharing initiative COVAX purchased 110 million doses of the vaccine, state media Xinhua reported on Tuesday.