Hongkongers aged over 60 should receive a fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine, the city’s scientific committees on Covid-19 and expert advisers have suggested in the wake of the soaring death toll among elderly people.

An elderly man received Covid-19 vaccination at home. Photo: HK Gov

Local data showed that three doses of Sinovac or BioNTech have proven to be “highly effective” in reducing hospitalisations and death across all age groups, according to the Department of Health’s two scientific committees on Covid-19 disease and on Covid-19 vaccines.

The committees and the Chief Executive’s expert advisory panel on Thursday said those over 60 who had received a third dose at least three months earlier are now recommended to take a fourth dose for “better protection.” The same would apply to recovered Covid-19 patients in that age group.

“As the majority of local fatal cases in the fifth wave of the Covid-19 epidemic have been persons aged 60 or above,” an additional dose was recommended for those aged 60 or above, a statement said.

The government typically follows advice from the two scientific committees.

43% triple jabbed

As of Thursday, 92.3 per cent of eligible people aged over 12 had received their first vaccine dose, and 85.5 per cent their second. Some 2.9 million people in this group – or about 43 per cent – had received their third dose. Meanwhile 61.6 per cent of children between three and 11 had been given their first dose.

Unvaccinated recovered patients aged under 60 can get their first jab one month after recovery, the committees added, while those who were partially vaccinated may get their next jabs no less than 28 days following recovery.

They also suggested that people partially vaccinated with brands recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which are available overseas but not in Hong Kong – such as Moderna or AstraZeneca – could complete their vaccination course using any alternatives available locally at least four weeks after their previous dose.

Those who were fully or partially vaccinated with vaccines not on the Hong Kong nor the WHO lists, however, are recommended to start their vaccination course again.

Minors who are immunocompromised may take a second jab at least 21 days after the first one, said the experts. They also had “no objection” to allowing Covid-19 vaccines to be administered at the same time as seasonal influenza jabs or other childhood immunisation vaccines as long as they were given with consent.

Hong Kong had recorded 1,183,235 Covid-19 cases and 8,557 deaths as of Thursday.

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.