Header image courtesy of Yung Chi Wai Derek (via Shutterstock)
Too old to get lai see, too young to get the vaccine—20-somethings have been in a bit of a limbo recently. Well, no more—the Hong Kong government just announced that it would be opening up the Covid-19 vaccinations to people aged 16 to 30 (a.k.a. no tweens, only teens and in-betweens).
Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Patrick Nip, the secretary for the civil service, said that the government would expand the vaccine programme to include under-30s starting from 9 am on Friday, 23 April. Based on the manufacturer’s specifications, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be available to residents over 16, while those over 18 can opt for the Sinovac jab. Bookings can be made online.
HKID holders over the age of 18 need only present their identification card at their appointment to confirm their eligibility, though 16- and 17-year-olds will need to bring a signed parental consent form, the template for which will be provided on the government’s thematic coronavirus vaccination website.
Nip also announced that the Pfizer-BioNTech jabs would no longer be offered at community vaccination centres after September, citing limited supply, low demand, and restrictive transport and storage requirements. “In other words, if anyone wants [the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination], they need to get their first jab by the end of August so they can get the second one by the end of September,” he said.
In addition, three community vaccination centres will switch from offering the Sinovac jab to Pfizer-BioNTech. Two of the centres in question—Tseung Kwan O Sports Centre and Yau Oi Sports Centre (Tuen Mun)—will begin administering the Pfizer-BioNTech jab starting from 20 April, while Osman Ramju Sadick Memorial Sports Centre in Kwai Fong will make the switch from 1 May. Interested citizens can register for Pfizer-BioNTech jabs at any of the three above centres on the government’s vaccine site starting from 9 am tomorrow (16 April).
Hong Kong’s vaccine rollout has been staggered, with only over-60s being eligible for the jab during the initial stages. However, eligibility was expanded to include anyone over 30 in mid-March. Until now, those under 30 have only been able to qualify for vaccinations if they have “high-risk” occupations (i.e. healthcare providers, food and beverage workers, and fitness gym staff) or care for an elderly person over the age of 70.
By including the 16 to 29 age group, the vaccination programme will cover an additional 1.08 million people, expanding coverage to 6.5 million people (about 80 percent of Hong Kong’s population). As of 2.30 pm today, 64,600 Hong Kong residents have taken the first dose of the vaccine— accounting for 9.7 percent of the total population above 16 years old—in the 49 days since the city’s vaccination programme began on 26 February.
Nip also stated that the government’s coronavirus vaccine website would be updated with vaccine-related statistics, details on “adverse events,” and other helpful information in order to boost public confidence in the vaccination programme.