Nearly half of unvaccinated Hongkongers say they will not be getting inoculated against Covid-19 , despite a healthy majority of residents expressing their readiness to transition to a strategy of coexisting with the virus, according to a new survey. Experts said the reluctance indicated by Sunday’s survey results was not a good sign, as vaccination was the best route to being able to live with the coronavirus – an approach increasingly being adopted overseas, even as Hong Kong continues to adhere to Beijing’s zero-Covid approach. Of the more than 5,600 respondents to the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong’s online survey, conducted from late October to early November, 59 per cent had received at least two jabs, while 39 per cent were not vaccinated at all. Among the unvaccinated, 47 per cent said they would not be getting jabbed, while 27 per cent were undecided. The remaining 26 per cent of unvaccinated respondents said they planned to get their shots, though most were not sure when. “As specialists, we know that this [reluctance] is not good … Even before Covid-19, vaccines in general could prevent a lot of potential deaths and serious conditions for other illnesses, so vaccines can help a lot,” infectious disease specialist Dr Wilson Lam said on Sunday. The survey also asked respondents to rate their level of comfort with a strategy of living with the virus on a 10-point scale, with just over two-thirds giving a rating of seven or higher. But William Chui Chun-ming, president of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists, said it was “not the right moment” for the city to transition to coexisting with the virus given the current inoculation rate, particularly with so many elderly residents still unvaccinated. “When the vaccination rate goes up to more than 90 per cent, then we can consider living with the virus,” he said. Respiratory medicine specialist Dr Leung Chi-chiu, who was not involved in the survey, said the whole world, Hong Kong included, was tired of the pandemic, “but vaccination must be the way out”. Leung said he believed the hesitance would wane over time if the government continued to prod residents to get their jabs, including by barring unvaccinated people from shops and restaurants. Late last month, Hong Kong finally hit its goal of 70 per cent of its population receiving at least one Covid-19 shot, a number previously touted by local experts as a significant milestone that would equate to herd immunity for the city. But experts have since revised their targets, with government pandemic adviser Yuen Kwok-yung saying as much as 99 per cent of the population would need to get inoculated to prevent outbreaks from overwhelming the local health care system if the city reopened to mainland China and the world. As of Sunday, more than 4.7 million people, or 70.9 per cent of the population, had received at least one jab. However, vaccination rates drop off sharply among the elderly, with just 46 per cent of those aged 70 to 79 and 18 per cent of those aged 80 and up inoculated. Swiss flag carrier suspends flights to Hong Kong over strict quarantine regime Chui urged the public to get their jabs immediately rather than wait for a second-generation vaccine, as the threat posed by the Omicron variant remained uncertain. “You will have to wait at least half a year before there are new-generation vaccines that can tackle Omicron … and if there are more variants coming up, it will cause panic among residents,” he said. Among the survey respondents who were vaccinated, or had plans to be, 70 per cent said their main consideration in choosing a brand was effectiveness. Sixty-two per cent said they also took into account the brand’s international recognition, and 55 per cent also considered country of origin. Almost 90 per cent said they preferred the German-made BioNTech vaccine, compared with just 3 per cent who favoured the Chinese-produced Sinovac one. But Lam said residents “don’t really have to worry too much” regardless of which brand they picked, as there were “well-established mechanisms to show the vaccines are of high quality”. Asked what factors would play a part in their decision to get a booster shot, 94 per cent of vaccinated respondents said the freedom to choose their preferred brand was important, and 92 per cent said they would consider which vaccines had more scientific research backing them up. Chui recommended the government provide a variety of vaccines to give the public more choice, and conduct regular reviews of the brands it purchased. He also suggested creating more venues for vaccination, including by adding more private clinics, regional health centres and community vaccination centres.