Only a small number of youngsters 'definitely' getting jabs

Top News | Jane Cheung 4 Jan 2021

Forty percent of young adults said they will not get vaccinations due to worries over their efficacy and side effects, an online survey has found.

Only 8.2 percent said they will "definitely" get the jabs, according to the group Youth New World's survey last month involving 412 people under 30 - an age group comprising two million of the city's 7.5 million population. As much as 80 percent question the efficacy of vaccines and 70 percent are concerned about adverse effects.

On the government's performance in combating the pandemic, almost 90 percent said they are unsatisfied while 55 percent said current health policies are too loose. More than half are reluctant to use the Leave Home Safe app to track daily whereabouts while 44.6 percent are against a mandatory city-wide test.

On economic prospects, 51.9 percent said they are not hopeful.

Without providing any options, the group asked respondents to name an official or expert whom they trust the most. While almost 60 percent said they do not trust anyone, more than a fourth said they approve of government adviser Yuen Kwok-yung from the University of Hong Kong. Nine percent said they have faith in the Centre for Health Protection's head of communicable disease branch Chuang Shuk-kwan.

The group's vice chairman, Tang Wing-yiu, said the results showed youngsters are confused by inconsistent health measures.

"The government should not only rely on experts to release information to the public, but it should also do more promotions especially through online platforms," he said.

The findings came after another poll of 2,691 people by the Liberal Party, announced last week, found nearly 60 percent of respondents are willing to take the jab and the remaining 40 percent said they will snub it.

Unwillingness for people to take the jab raised concerns, especially amid "herd immunity" claims that the virus would stop spreading only after 70 percent of the population has received vaccination.

Yesterday, former CHP controller Thomas Tsang Ho-fai said the 70 percent figure is only a rough estimation. Vaccination is also not the ultimate solution to eradicate the virus.

In a television interview, he said "herd immunity" is a complex matter whose effectiveness depends on the actual vaccination rate and the duration of immunity vaccines can provide.

"Even with vaccination, we will still need to continue with measures including quarantine, wearing masks and maintaining hand hygiene. It's impossible to achieve zero infection just by herd immunity," Tsang said.

Tsang said the government vaccination program comes with three levels of protection. First, the vaccines used in Hong Kong must be already registered or widely used in another jurisdiction. Second, experts will conduct detailed scientific analysis on each candidate vaccine. Third, a system to monitor rare but serious adverse effects will be set up.

Secretary for Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen has said vaccinations are expected to start next month. Jabs from mainland firm Sinovac and British AstraZeneca - to be stored between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius - are expected to be administered at elderly homes and public and private hospitals and clinics while those from German BioNTech - to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius - should be available at community centers.

Editorial: Follow Israel's vaccination success

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