Hong Kong rolled out the BioNTech Omicron-specific Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday as elderly residents who waited months for its arrival became some of the first to receive the jabs. Residents can now receive the German-made bivalent shots against Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 as their fourth dose at community vaccination centres, as well as at inoculation stations in hospitals, and designated general outpatient and private clinics. At the Java Road Playground Community Vaccination Station in Quarry Bay, around 90 people received the newly arrived vaccine in the first two hours of it being available. Some elderly residents said they had been delaying getting their fourth dose, which had been available since May, after learning that the bivalent vaccine would be introduced in Hong Kong. Lisa Lau, a 66-year-old retiree who received her third vaccine in January, decided to get the fourth dose on the first day of its launch, adding she chose BioNTech for all her shots. “We saw that new subvariants had been emerging previously so we thought it might be better to wait for a while first. And the new vaccine has been modified,” she said after receiving the shots with her husband. “It has been a year and so I need to boost [my immunity], which has lessened over time.” BioNTech and Chinese-produced Sinovac vaccines, based on the original coronavirus strain, are the first-generation jabs, currently available in Hong Kong for people aged six months or above. Hong Kong to consider allowing residents to take Omicron vaccine as third shot BioNTech’s second-generation vaccine contains a bivalent formulation, meaning it is based on two virus strains – the original type, as well as BA.4 and BA.5, the current dominant subvariants in Hong Kong. Authorities said it could be given as a fourth dose or a third one for recovered individuals. Health experts had previously cited additional data proving its efficacy against both the original strain and the subvariants. Residents aged 50 or above, immunocompromised people aged over 12, and those who are older than 18 and have a higher risk of Covid-19 exposure are advised to get the shots. Expert committees under the Centre for Health Protection on Thursday afternoon would meet to discuss whether the bivalent vaccine could be given as the third and fifth dose, as well as whether more people should be recommended to receive the vaccine. They would also touch on the arrangements for care home residents to receive the new vaccine. Online bookings for new Omicron-specific vaccine in Hong Kong to open on Sunday A 74-year-old retiree named Mak who had received his third dose in January also decided to wait for the second-generation vaccine. “The bivalent vaccine can provide an additional layer of protection against new subvariants so that is why I decided to wait for it,” he said. Dr Yuen Kai-tak, the duty doctor at the Quarry Bay vaccination station said of the 90 recipients on Thursday morning, one-third of them were not elderly. Glen Barnden, 41, who works in the finance industry, was among the younger people at the station. He said he would be going to Qatar to watch the World Cup in two weeks. Hong Kong rolls out BioNTech Covid jabs for toddlers, but booking rate low “I’m naturally a cautious person. I wanted to be one of the first people to take it. That’s why I came today,” he said. “I guess Omicron is now the dominant strain around the world. I think it’s very clever that they have produced one that protects you from the basic Covid-19 [strain] plus the most dominant variant.” Those aged between 18 and 49 can receive the fourth shot six months after the third one. People aged 50 or over and immunocompromised people aged over 12 are eligible for the fourth dose three months after the previous one. As of Thursday, 584,645 residents had received their fourth jab of either BioNTech or Sinovac.