People queue at a community vaccination center ahead of an expected resumption of normal travel with the Chinese mainland in Hong Kong, Jan 4, 2023. (TYRONE SIU / REUTERS)

HONG KONG – Residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region have swamped clinics to get vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the expected resumption of normal travel to the Chinese mainland.

City government centers providing shots produced by BioNTech have in recent days been mostly booked solid, some until February, in contrast with a few weeks ago when anyone seeking a vaccine could stroll into a nearly empty facility.

READ MORE: HKSAR to normalize travel with mainland

"After the opening of the border, I expect there will be more infected people on the streets, I want to reduce my chance of getting infected,” said a Hong Kong resident surnamed Wan, 33, who got his fourth shot this week.

The number of people getting a fourth shot jumped more than 100 percent this week from a week earlier

The government of the special administrative region announced plans to reopen its border and resume restriction-free travel for the first time in more than three years after Beijing adjusted its COVID policy and announced it was easing its travel restrictions from Jan 8.

Hong Kong saw a sluggish vaccine uptake when the shots first became available in 2001, particularly among the elderly, but rates picked up over the past year and more than 83 percent of the city’s residents have received three doses of either the BioNTech shot or Sinovac vaccine, according to government data.

The number of people getting a fourth shot jumped more than 100 percent this week from a week earlier.

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Many mainlanders have been asking on social media about how to get an mRNA vaccine in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's government has said non-residents will have to pay for vaccines at private clinics.