Some 2,200 young children have received their first Covid-19 Sinovac injection at government or private clinics in the week since the age threshold was lowered to six months from three years, according to the official overseeing Hong Kong’s vaccination drive.
Secretary for the Civil Service Ingrid Yeung said on an RTHK programme on Thursday that many other parents had made bookings for toddlers at the government’s community vaccination centres, while others had booked at private clinics.
“Apart from the community vaccination centres… people can also visit private clinics to get vaccinated, some schools may arrange outreach services as well. It turned out that 45 per cent of people [already vaccinated] received the shot at private clinics, so those will not show up in the government’s booking number,” Yeung said.
A panel of government experts recommended lowering the age threshold to as young as six months for both the German-developed BioNTech and Chinese-made Sinovac jabs. A less concentrated dosage of the BioNTech adult vaccine is needed for children younger than three but the government has not yet been able to secure such dosages.
“We are still negotiating with the pharmaceutical company so I have no new information to provide,” Yeung said. “I understand that some parents wish to have an option, but the Sinovac vaccine is also safe, as attested by experts. I hope parents who wish to protect their children earlier will not hesitate and will arrange vaccination.”
More vaccination sites
The government on Thursday also announced more venues would provide vaccination services. Starting from next Monday, Maternal and Child Health Centres will offer the Sinovac jab for children aged six months old to three years who already have regular check-up appointments there. No booking will be needed.
Hong Kong Children’s Hospital and a community vaccination centre at Tsing Yi MTR station, which used to offer only BioNTech jabs, will also provide Sinovac starting next Monday, with booking opening this Friday.
As of Wednesday, the city’s overall first-dose vaccination rate was at 93.1 per cent, while the second-dose rate was 89.8 per cent. Hong Kong has recorded 1,397,920 Covid-19 infections and 9,554 related deaths since the pandemic began.