All people in Hong Kong, foreign domestic helpers included, have a civic duty to get vaccinated against Covid-19. It is in everyone’s interest – the greater the number, the more the economy can reopen and life return to normal. Scientists contend the target for immunisation has to be at least 70 per cent of the population to attain what is known as herd immunity. But the city’s rates are far below what is required and although the government has a role to play, it is ultimately up to citizens to decide their future. Public health is the priority of authorities and it is for that reason mandatory testing by May 9 was ordered for all 370,000 helpers. Labour minister Law Chi-kwong unveiled plans requiring them to be vaccinated before signing a new work contract. Two maids infected with worrying mutations of the coronavirus prompted the snap decision last Friday; it has been shown to be a wise move with three more cases having already been detected as a result. But the government was unprepared for the diplomatic backlash from the Philippines and Indonesia for the vaccination requirement, which was labelled discriminatory. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has suspended the scheme, calling for a review and consultation with consuls general and interest groups. The nature of the coronavirus understandably means that authorities have to act promptly and that gives little or no time to consult those directly affected. Testing and quarantining of close contacts or those who may have been infected has to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible to prevent the risk of the virus spreading. Hong Kong puts brakes on helper vaccine policy amid firestorm of criticism This is not just for Hong Kong; the whole nation could also be affected. But where foreign nationals are concerned, other governments have to be informed as a matter of courtesy. Just 13 per cent of residents have received one vaccine jab and fewer than 8 per cent are fully vaccinated. Whether to get a jab and which vaccine to take are personal decisions, but there is also the reality that herd immunity offers the best way back to normality. Retail figures, employment, the business environment, tourism – all depend on coronavirus prevention measures. We have choice, but with it also comes responsibility as residents and citizens, no matter where we are from.