People wearing face masks line up to scan the government's contact tracing QR code for the "LeaveHomeSafe" COVID-19 mobile app before entering a market in Hong Kong on Nov 2, 2021. (KIN CHEUNG / AP)
HONG KONG – Hong Kong will provide a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines to the elderly and other people who are at high risk of infection, government officials said Wednesday.
In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said the government decided to give a third dose to an estimated 1.86 million residents in prioritized groups on the recommendation of health experts.
Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said the government decided to give a third dose to an estimated 1.86 million residents in priority groups on the recommendation of health experts
“So the vaccination will be done by stages because some of them will have to wait (for six months). We will monitor demand and supply. If need be, we will talk to the pharmaceutical companies. We’ll see if we need to order more vaccines,” Nip said.
Speaking at the same press conference, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said the prioritized groups include those who are above the age of 60, healthcare workers, and those who work in cross-boundary transportation and border control points and ports.
They will have to wait for six months after their second dose before they can take their third jab.
Another group includes immunocompromised people such as cancer patients, organ transplant patients, and late-stage HIV patients. They should get their third shot at least four weeks after their second jab.
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"The mutant virus strain is highly transmissible. In the unfortunate event of a fifth wave, it will spread much more quickly than the previous waves. It will be too late if we start vaccination by then," Chan said.
Nip said that those eligible may start making appointments on the dedicated government website starting Nov 5 for their third shot. They may choose either the Sinovac or the BioNTech jab and get their shot free of charge starting Nov 11.
Nip said that once members of these priority groups have received their third jab, the government “may open the program" to others "who have received two doses and have waited six months.”
The government procured a total of 15 million COVID-19 vaccines and Nip said 9.05 million doses have been administered to members of the public. He said 4.43 million residents, or 65.8 percent of the eligible population, have received two shots.
Hong Kong reported three COVID-19 cases with variant strains on Wednesday, bringing the city’s tally to 12,352
Meanwhile, Hong Kong reported three COVID-19 cases with variant strains on Wednesday, bringing the city’s tally to 12,352.
In a statement, the Centre for Health Protection said the cases involved a 26-year-old man from the United States and a man and a woman from the United Kingdom.
They all tested positive under the “test-and-hold” arrangement at the airport. The man from the US was asymptomatic while the patients from the UK started showing symptoms on Nov 1, the CHP said.
It said the male patient from the UK lives at Block 21, Baguio Villa, Pok Fu Lam and travelled to the UK on Oct 16. His specimen collected upon arrival on Nov 1 tested positive for the L452R mutant strain.
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The CHP said he works at the Hong Kong Football Club in Happy Valley and last went to work on Oct 14.
“As a prudent measure, the places where he resided, worked and visited during the incubation period were included in a compulsory testing notice,” the CHP said.
It added that a total of 48 cases were reported from Oct 20 to Nov 2 and all of them were imported.