Could Hong Kong idol Keung To encourage people to get the Covid-19 vaccine?

  • Authorities hope to pair with celebrities, influencers and other credible figures to boost the city’s vaccination drive
  • Many people are sceptical of the coronavirus jab because of distrust in the government

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Could Keung To be the key to more people getting vaccinated in Hong Kong? Photo: Facebook

Could Keung To encourage you to get the Covid-19 jab?

The government is hoping to partner with Hong Kong celebrities and influencers, like the 22-year-old singer, to boost the city’s sluggish Covid-19 vaccination drive, underscoring the importance of using “credible” figures amid distrust in the government.

Executive councillor Dr Lam Ching-choi, a member of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s de facto cabinet, revealed the plan to SCMP on Tuesday after a health expert called on authorities to consider asking rising local pop star Keung to urge residents to get the jabs.

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“According to my understanding, the government is seeking out KOLs [key opinion leaders] and artists to help,” Lam said, without revealing potential names. “Having Keung To is possible if he is willing.”

Confirming the plan, a government spokesman said the administration is partnering with different broadcasters to produce content involving KOLs and artists in order to publicise getting the vaccine.

Since the inoculation programme launched in late February, officials, politicians and experts have taken the lead to get vaccinated, while the government has posted social media videos featuring people from all walks of life sharing why they decided to get the jabs.

Last month, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen posted photos of actor Steven Ma Chun-wai getting vaccinated on Facebook, but the post only earned around 160 likes.

By Tuesday, just 989,726 people, or 13.2 per cent of the city’s 7.5 million residents, had received their first vaccine dose. Of this group, 573,028, or 7.6 per cent of the population, have been fully vaccinated.

A vaccine expert answers all your questions about the jab

On Tuesday, University of Hong Kong microbiologist Dr Ho Pak-leung ramped up his appeal to urge residents to get vaccinated, bringing Keung’s name into the public health arena.

“The government can think about asking popular singers or figures, such as Keung To, to come out and say a few words, or post something on their Instagram, to encourage residents to get vaccinated,” he told a radio show.

Keung’s manager told a local newspaper that no one had reached out to the singer on such a collaboration, and that he had not yet decided whether he would get the jabs.

Keung is currently an ambassador for a private sector drive for prevention of the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Last Friday, the star’s birthday drew throngs of fans in Causeway Bay to celebrate the occasion, marking a revival in interest for local pop idols.

Fans in Causeway Bay splash out on promotional material for pop star Keung To’s birthday. Photo: Facebook

Veteran marketing consultant Vincent Tsui felt inviting Keung could attract some people, as the government’s promotional efforts were still relatively traditional.

“Keung’s influence is big. It has been a long time since Hong Kong had such a big star,” he said, noting dozens of recent advertisements that carried the singer’s face.

Remember that you can still spread coronavirus, even after getting the vaccine

He noted that when billionaire Li Ka-shing made a public statement about getting the jab, it boosted confidence among some in the middle class. Tsui urged officials to consider working with intellectual thought leaders who were not obviously affiliated with authorities or the pro-establishment camp.

“The reason people are not willing to get vaccinated is likely because of the low level of trust in our government,” he said. “The promotional campaign should pinpoint the trust problem.”

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