Herd immunity target well within reach

Top News | Wallis Wang 19 Jul 2021

Some 70 percent of Hong Kong's 6.8 million population eligible for vaccination will have had at least one jab by the end of September, reaching a target that the government has set for herd immunity, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen estimates.

Nip made the estimation based on the vaccination progress so far, with around 2.8 million having received at least one vaccine dose as of Saturday, taking the city's rate to 41 percent.

And more people are rushing to book jab appointments as the deadline for the closure of inoculation centers administering BioNTech approaches, he added. At least six centers are fully booked for the next 20 days while another four are almost full.

"Around 30,000 people are getting the first dose everyday, which means one million more Hongkongers would be vaccinated in a month and around two million in two months," Nip said on radio yesterday.

"At the current pace, those who have received the first dose of the vaccine could reach 70 percent of the population in late September."

He said authorities have found that more people are willing to get vaccinated now and so they will increase the capacity of vaccination centers.

"The 29 community vaccination centers could not operate forever," Nip said. "I hope Hongkongers can get vaccinated before the end of August and boost the vaccination rate to 70 percent as soon as possible."

But Nip was concerned that the rate among the elderly was too low - only less than 25 percent of those aged above 60 have received the jab. He added: "Many vaccination centers are fully booked recently, but there are still some available time slots. So we are studying whether we could reserve some walk-in quota for the elderly."

Nip said vaccination is a must to resume cross-border travel.

"If we want to resume cross-border travel with the mainland, we must give them confidence by maintaining zero local infection and preventing imported cases from spreading," he said.

Nip said authorities are facing a dilemma as to whether they should allow vaccinated Hongkongers to return from high-risk countries.

"If returnees from high-risk areas bring the virus into the community and trigger another round of infections, our previous efforts to maintain zero infection will be wasted," he added.

The six vaccination centers administering BioNTech jabs that are fully booked for the next 20 days include those at Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital and the hospital's eastern medical center.

The others are St Paul's Hospital, Education Bureau Kowloon Tong education services center, Chinese University's medical center and Yuen Long Sports Centre.

Another four vaccination centers - at Gleneagles Hospital, Tai Po Hui Sports Centre, Tsuen King Circuit Sports Centre and Yau Oi Sports Centre - were almost fully booked.

The government has said that centers providing BioNTech vaccines will be closed on September 30 so it is urging the public to get their first jab before the end of August.


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