Single-jab boost for full-day classesTop News | Wallis Wang 17 Sep 2021
At least 11 schools are set to resume full-day classes after authorities started to recognize students as fully vaccinated against Covid-19 after one BioNTech jab rather than two, making a 70 percent inoculation target easier to achieve.
Medical experts had on Wednesday suggested one shot of the German-made BioNTech/Fosun vaccine should be enough for youngsters aged from 12 to 17.
That followed 30 of 37 local cases of post-jab heart inflammation occurring after second jabs, with adolescent boys particularly susceptible to the condition.
From yesterday, youngsters who have had one shot and arranged for a second could cancel bookings, though they could get the second shot if they or their families wished, the Department of Health announced.
Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said 11 out of Hong Kong's 506 secondary schools had by yesterday applied to resume full-day classes for particular grades.
Two schools have already resumed full-day classes this week, Yeung added, while the other nine will commence with extensions from Monday up to October 4.
In a letter sent to principals yesterday, the Education Bureau confirmed that students aged between 12 and 17 who have received one BioNTech jab will be regarded as fully vaccinated when calculating the vaccination rate within schools.
But students at least 18 years old and teaching staff should still receive two doses.
When individual schools have achieved the 70 percent vaccination rate, the bureau said, it will allow students to resume normal school life. That includes whole-day, face-to-face classes, lunch periods and extra-curricular activities.
Vaccinated students at schools holding half-day classes should also be allowed to participate in nonacademic activities, including music or sports, during the other half days, the bureau added.
Principal Lam Yim-ling of Delia Memorial School (Hip Wo) in Kwun Tong - the first school to resume full-day classes for secondary six students after reaching the 70 percent mark - said 76 percent of students and staff members had received at least one jab.
So after authorities lowered the requirement the school was well set to soon resume full-day classes for all grades.
Another principal, Lawrence Tang Fei from Heung To Secondary School in Tseung Kwan O, said over 60 percent of secondary four and five students had received both shots.
Taking into account students who have received one shot, those two grades can soon switch from half-day to full-day in-person classes.
But parents of junior students remain worried about the side effects of the BioNTech vaccine, Tang added, so he appealed to authorities to organize more vaccine choices for youngsters.
Wong Ching-yung, principal of Scientia Secondary School in Ho Man Tin, said he hoped government officials can arrange for more health talks for parents to ease their concerns.
Wong added that more than 50 students from the school will get vaccinated next Friday and most of them were booked for first jabs.
Also yesterday, Lau Yu-lung, chairman of the Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases, said students wanting to study overseas should receive a second dose of vaccine because of higher infection risks in other places amid the pandemic.
University of Hong Kong expert Ho Pak-leung suggested youngsters could still get two jabs but extend the duration between them.
Ho added that the Norwegian government suggested they should receive a second dose two months after the first.
And statistics in the United Kingdom showed a longer duration between the shots leads to better protection.
Meanwhile, no new Covid cases were recorded in Hong Kong yesterday for the first time since September 2.
The SAR is also on a 30-day streak of zero local cases, with the tally currently standing at 12,150 cases with 213 deaths.