Teachers urged to get jabs

Local | 6 Jun 2021 5:03 pm

The government is considering allowing students and parents to get vaccinations at the same time as government officials called on teaching staff to take the jabs as soon as possible.

Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung hoped that teachers can set a good example and take the jabs as more students being vaccinated can increase the possibility to resume whole-day face-to-face classes. 

He said the bureau will also provide assistance to schools including taking teaching staff and students to the vaccination centers by coaches. 

This came after the government announced that it would lower the BioNTech vaccine’s age requirement from 16 to 12 years old.

Speaking on a TV program today, Yeung said allowing more students aged 12 to 15 to be vaccinated would help the full resumption of face-to-face classes.

Yeung said a survey has shown that more than 20 percent of teachers are willing to get the jab and believed the vaccination rate among teachers would rise.

“We hope teachers could set a good example to get the jab, and explain the benefits of getting vaccinated to their students,” Yeung said.

Yeung said they are considering sending teams to schools to administer Covid-19 jabs. But authorities have to consider various factors, such as manpower needed, the vast amount of schools in the city and whether the campuses are fit for the complicated arrangements needed for BioNTech jabs. 

He said the government would also consider arranging buses to carry students to the community vaccination centers to get the jabs.

Students and their parents are welcomed to get vaccinated together and the government is studying related policies, Yeung said.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said only 18 percent of teaching staff across the city’s 2,000 schools have been vaccinated, adding that the government will continue to urge teaching staff to get the jab as soon as possible.

Cheung also said the government will announce the vaccination arrangement for children as young as 12 years old as soon as possible. 

He added that the Food and Health Bureau has consulted health experts and found that the benefits of lowering BioNTech vaccines’ age requirement outweigh the risks.

The vaccines could not only protect teenagers from being infected with coronavirus, but also help them return to normal school life as soon as possible, Cheung said.

Labour secretary Law Chi-kwong, meanwhile, said the government may adjust its policies to boost the vaccination rate within elderly homes.

As of May 31, only three percent of elderly home residents and 23 percent of staff have been vaccinated, Law said.

He added that 94 percent of elderly home residents in the United Kingdom have received the jabs, while the vaccination rate among the elderly in care homes in Ontario, Canada has reached 97 percent.

“The vaccination rate in elderly homes in Hong Kong is extremely low,” Law said. 

“We must review the problem within a short time and adjust the policies to boost the vaccination rate in elderly homes.”

However, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said Hong Kong will not be able to get more vaccines within this year even if there’s a sudden surge of significant demand.

Chan said the current BioNTech vaccines will expire in mid-August. If the vaccination rate is low, the government may delay future vaccine shipping or donate the vaccines to the World Health Organization to avoid wasting the jabs.

But she said the city will not be able to get more vaccines within this year because it needs time to produce the vaccines and have them shipped to Hong Kong, urging citizens to get the jabs before they expire as soon as possible.

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June 2021

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