Hong Kong will shorten the intervals between Covid-19 vaccines for children, teenagers and the elderly, as the fifth wave continues to infect over 50,000 people daily in the city.

Elderly residents of nursing homes will be allowed to receive their second jab of the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine after 21 days instead of the previous 28 days, Albert Au of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) told reporters during Friday’s Covid-19 briefing.

Covid-19 vaccine Sinovac elderly
Elderly people queuing for Sinovac vaccination. Photo: GovHK.

The recommended interval between the first and second doses for the German-manufactured BioNTech vaccine, the other type of Covid-19 vaccine available in Hong Kong, remained at 21 days.

Unvaccinated elderly care home residents who had contracted the coronavirus will also be able to receive their Covid-19 vaccination as soon as four weeks after recovery, Au said. Previously they had to wait for three months. Recovered patients could choose to receive either the Sinovac or the BioNTech jab.

Albert Au
Albert Au, the principal medial and health officer from the Centre for Health Protection. Photo: Video screenshot, via RTHK.

According to Au, the decision was made based on statistics evaluated by the CHP, as well as consultations with experts and the chairperson of the Joint Scientific Committee under the CHP.

Au said that seniors living in nursing facilities were of “especially high risk,” as they accounted for at least 680 Covid-19-related deaths.

There are approximately 70,000 senior nursing home residents in the city, around 9,800 of whom have already been infected with Covid-19, Au said. Cases have been detected in 72 per cent of Hong Kong’s elderly care homes, Au added.

Au said the latest arrangement was made to “allow residents to complete vaccination” and to boost their “overall immunity” as soon as possible.

Shortened vaccine intervals for pupils

Seniors, teenagers and children will also be allowed to receive their second or third jabs of a Covid-19 vaccine sooner, according to a government press release published on Friday afternoon.

The following groups can register for their next dose from Saturday:

  • For citizens aged 60 or above, the interval between their second and third jabs has been reduced from six to three months.
  • The interval between the first and second doses of BioNTech jabs for people aged between five and 17 has been shortened from 12 weeks to 8 weeks.
  • Children under 12 who have a weak immune system will be allowed to register for their third jab four weeks after receiving their second dose. They are required to produce relevant medical proof at the vaccination centre.
student children vaccination vaccine covid
Photo: GovHK.

From March 11, third dose registration will also be open to adolescents aged 12 to 17. Those who have received two Sinovac doses can get their booster shots three months after their second jab, while those who have had two BioNTech shots will have to wait at least five months.

Moreover, from March 21, anyone aged 12 or over with a weakened immune system will be able to register for their fourth dose, provided it is at least three months since their third dose

On Friday, Hong Kong reported another 52,523 confirmed Covid-19 cases, of which 11 were imported. There were also 136 new deaths in the past 24 hours, of which 97 had no vaccination record.

In total, the city has recorded 350,557 Covid-19 cases and 1,554 casualties since the pandemic started.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.