Hong Kong’s health chief has authorised the use of BioNTech’s new Omicron-targeting vaccine, with the first batch expected to arrive at Hong Kong in November. It will be offered as an alternative choice to those who intend to receive a fourth Covid-19 jab.

Pfizer-BioNTech_COVID-19_vaccine_(2021)_D (Copy)
Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine. File photo: The state government of São Paulo, via Wikicommons.

The updated vaccine, which targets the original Covid-19 strain as well as Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, “may provide broader immunity against different variants,” the government expert advisory panel said last month.

In light of the panel’s recommendations, the Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau approved the vaccine for “emergency use” in Hong Kong, the Health Bureau wrote in a statement on Friday.

The first batch of the new vaccine is expected to land from Germany at the end of this month, and it will provided as an option for those who wish to receive their fourth dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, the statement read.

People can also choose to receive their fourth dose from the city’s two existing types of vaccines – the China-produced Sinovac jab or the first-generation BioNTech vaccine.

The city’s health authorities currently recommend people aged 50 or above, as well as those of all ages who have a weak immune system, to receive a fourth jab.

Adults aged between 18 and 49 can also choose to take a fourth dose.

“We strongly call upon members of the public to receive vaccines following the vaccination schedule, especially senior citizens, chronic patients, and other immunocompromised persons who face a higher chance of death after Covid-19 infection,” a government spokesperson said in the statement.

As of Friday, Hong Kong has logged over 2 million Covid-19 cases and 10,577 related deaths.

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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.