First quota of Sinovac jabs snapped up

Top News | Jane Cheung 24 Feb 2021

The Beijing-made Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine has attracted an enthusiastic response, with all 70,000 quota places opened for registration booked in 16 hours.

With the online registration platform opening slots from Friday to March 11 at midnight yesterday, quotas for all 18 Hospital Authority clinics were gone by 9am and five community vaccination centers offering the Sinovac shots were fully booked by 4pm.

That means 140,000 shots of the first batch of one million Sinovac vaccines have been reserved as everyone requires two doses 28 days apart. Those who made appointments have to book their second shots when they receive the first jab.

To secure the second dose for the 70,000 slots from March 26 to April 8 were automatically blocked off for them.

Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, responsible for the inoculation program, admitted there were hiccups with the system, including it wrongly accepting registrations for the Central Library vaccination center yesterday in the first few minutes past midnight.

The center originally opened for 200 selected people from priority groups to be vaccinated yesterday as a trial run to test operational procedures before the program's official commencement on Friday.

The initial phase of inoculations will cater to 2.4 million citizens from five priority groups - citizens above 60, medics, cross-border workers, public service officers and staffers and residents of care homes.

But people who have yet to secure a vaccination booking need not worry as around 1,200 doctors at 1,500 private clinics will offer the remaining Sinovac shots soon, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said.

Authorities also briefed partner private doctors in the vaccination program. They could start ordering jabs from the government platform on Friday and can expect to offer vaccinations at clinics by Tuesday at the earliest.

Similar to the arrangement at vaccination centers, recipients will have to stay at a clinic for 30 minutes after receiving a jab to monitor their conditions, a doctor said.

And clinics will have adrenaline shots prepared for anyone who experiences a serious allergic reaction.

One million doses of European-made BioNTech/Fosun vaccines are expected to arrive tomorrow at the earliest, and 24 more vaccination centers will open soon afterwards to offer jabs.

Announcing all quotas were taken for the first two weeks of Sinovac vaccine inoculations yesterday, a government spokesman thanked citizens' for supporting the program.

The online registration system was in fact jammed after registration started at midnight, and people were directed to a waiting page. Some were advised they had to wait for an hour.

Cheung, 63, asked his daughter to help him register, who did so using a laptop and two tablets to click to the system. After the midnight start the application form page was reached at 12.28am.

After filling in the ID number, date of birth and the priority group category, the system directed Cheung to a long note about details of the Sinovac vaccine, including warnings on who would not be suitable to receive it.

Progress to a page to fill out more information and to choose the vaccination date and venue was only achieved after ticking the box "I agree with the terms and conditions." But the actual registration process took less than three minutes, though the Cheungs' two tablets were still on the waiting page after registration was completed via the laptop.

Citizens also reported system jamming, with some landing on "error" pages after they had waited a long time.

They were the sort of problems referred to by Nip.



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