Flexible teen jab options

Top News | Jane Cheung 11 Jun 2021

Around 240,000 youngsters from 12 to 15 can register for Covid-19 vaccinations from today.

Authorities yesterday announced details about where they can go for the German-made BioNTech/Fosun vaccine as the other jab - Beijing-made Sinovac - is limited to adults.

Arrangements are moving along for students who are typically Primary Six to Secondary Four after Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee lowered the eligibility age for BioNTech's Comirnaty vaccine to 12 from 16.

Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, in charge of the inoculation program, said students can set up the shot on their own through the online registration system (www.covidvaccine.gov.hk) starting at 9am today.

The BioNTech jab is available at 24 community vaccination centers from Monday, the Dragon Boat Festival. "We purposely begin inoculation for the age group on a public holiday so those who wish to get the vaccine with their parents can go on that day," Nip explained.

A second option is to arrange transportation for schools to take students, teachers and parents in groups to centers from June 21.

"We have medical teams and all the facilities you need at the centers, so we welcome schools to make use of such resources," Nip said. Authorities can also reserve time slots at centers for schools.

A third option is for outreach vaccination teams to go to schools to administer shots. That would not start before June 28, when most schools will have finished year-end examinations.

Nip said schools that have gathered about 300 or more students, teachers and parents willing to get shots will have priority.

"Vaccination center operators will send medical teams to these schools, which should provide an area of around 1,500 square feet to be segregated into areas for the dilution of jabs, inoculation and health monitoring," he said. "Our aim is to let schools choose the most convenient option for them. If several schools in the same neighborhood join hands to gather more people for vaccination in one of them we can arrange for an outreach team."

Nip reminded students to have a parent's consent for inoculation. A template for a consent letter is on the registration website.

Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said if vaccine coverage at a school can reach 70 to 80 percent and Hong Kong's pandemic situation remains stable over the holiday authorities will consider allowing these schools to resume full-day, in-person classes.

On whether vaccinated and unvaccinated students will be subject to different health measures, Yeung said: "There will definitely be a difference, but it could be small."

He remarked too that as of May 3 only 18 percent of staff at the SAR's 2,000 kindergartens and primary and secondary schools - more than 71,000 teachers - had received a first jab.

Also yesterday, the HK Aided Primary School Heads Association's honorary chairman, Langton Cheung Yung-pong, said primary schools could hardly gather 300 people as only P6 pupils would have reached the age requirement.

Nip again called for people to get BioNTech jabs at 29 centers - the remaining five offer Sinovac's CoronaVac - soon as they close after September.

A Sinovac jab will then be available at over 1,200 private clinics while limited BioNTech jabs will only be offered to specific groups.

"There are people who want to take the jab but cannot do so now due to chronic diseases and other health reasons," he said.

After September it is likely BioNTech shots will only be offered to public hospital patients.

As of Wednesday, 1.61 million people - 24.8 percent of the population aged above 16 - had taken at least shot, including 705,000 getting Sinovac and 903,400 BioNTech.

Of the total, 1.15 million have completed both doses, an uptake rate of 17.7 percent.

Hong Kong yesterday saw two imported cases and a third consecutive day without local infections. That took the case tally to 11,875, with 210 deaths.


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