Coronavirus: Hong Kong needs 70 per cent of its population to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity

  • Fake news and concerns about the Covid-19 jabs means not enough people are registering for the vaccine
  • Seven people have died after receiving the Sinovac vaccine, but the deaths have not been directly linked to the jabs
Susan Ramsay |

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People queue for vaccination at the Community Vaccination Centre for Sinovac vaccines in Hong Kong Central Library, Causeway Bay. Photo: SCMP/Felix Wong

While vaccines have become more available to Hongkongers, the number of people wanting to get the jabs is relatively low. Some 70 per cent of the population needs to have been vaccinated for the city to reach “herd immunity”.

Herd immunity is the goal, as that should allow Hong Kong to reopen, and Hongkongers to move around freely, go to school and play sports, go to the cinema again and so on. Herd immunity cannot be achieved without vaccination. While we wait for the magical 70 per cent figure, as of Friday, less than four per cent of Hongkongers had signed up for the jab.

Fake news has spread many myths about vaccinations, making people reluctant to sign up for them.

Should Hong Kong companies encourage their staff to get the vaccine?

People confuse “efficacy” with “safety”, and seem to think that the vaccine should protect them completely from Covid-19. However, most vaccines say that if people do get coronavirus, they won’t get it very badly, and will not die from it.

Just like with flu vaccines, there is no guarantee that vaccinees will not catch the virus.

The deaths of seven people in Hong Kong soon after receiving the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine have led to increasing public concern over its potential side effects, despite no link being established between the deaths and the jabs.

Vaccine makers have all declared that their products are safe, meaning there should not be any deaths or otherwise serious reactions to them.

Should the city’s vaccine scheme continue?

So, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she was thinking about allowing vaccinees more freedom than those who have not been vaccinated.

On the other hand, people who are keen to get the vaccine might feel that they are entitled to that freedom anyway.

Other governments are begging people to have their vaccine because it is the right thing to do. Others are struggling to keep up with the demand from people clamouring for the safety vaccines promise, and the freedom to just return to work and earn a living to feed their families.

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