Coronavirus: Hong Kong may lower Covid-19 vaccine age requirement to 16

  • The change to the government vaccination scheme would boost the city’s efforts to achieving herd immunity
  • Only about six per cent of the population has received the jab so far - far short of the goal of 70 per cent

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Secretary for the Civil Service, Patrick Nip, said the government is considering lowering its minimum age requirement for the vaccine to 16. Photo: SCMP / Felix Wong

Hong Kong may expand its eligibility requirements for receiving the Covid-19 vaccine by lowering the minimum age to 16, a senior official has revealed.

Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said on Tuesday that plans were afoot for reducing the minimum age – currently 30 – at which residents were entitled to get vaccinated under the government scheme, in a bid to boost the city’s drive towards achieving herd immunity.

Nip, who oversees Hong Kong’s vaccine programme, also offered assurances over the city’s vaccine supply, describing the current status as stable.

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But he said the arrival of future batches of the jabs might be affected by storage issues, noting that the German-made BioNTech vaccine needed to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius. He urged people to get vaccinated to use up stock and free capacity for more shots to land in the city.

“We want everyone to use our existing vaccine supplies, so the next batch can come when they are used up,” he told a radio show.

According to the latest official figures, about 379,600 residents – or roughly 5.8 per cent of Hongkongers aged 16 and above – have been vaccinated. The first batch of people started getting their second round boosters on Monday.

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Respiratory medicine specialist Leung Chi-chiu said the ideal scenario was that 70 per cent of the population – the target for herd immunity – would be vaccinated by July, but he noted that seemed unlikely based on current progress.

“If not 70 per cent, then 50 per cent may also have a positive effect towards tackling the pandemic,” he added.

The city’s tally of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at 11,397 with 203 deaths, as of Monday.

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