Hong Kong testing Covid-19 vaccines on children 11-16

  • HKU is conducting a study to see how the coronavirus jab affects younger kids in hopes of resuming full-day classes in September
  • Some teens believe the vaccine could offer all-around protection, while others worry about the side effects
Kelly Fung |

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People queue for the BioNTech jab at the community vaccination centre at Ap Li Chau Sports Centre. The University of Hong Kong is looking for kids ages 11-16 to volunteer for a vaccine study. Photo: SCMP / K. Y. Cheng

Hong Kong plans to expand Covid-19 vaccination to children as young as 11 in hopes of resuming full-day classes in September this year, a vaccine expert revealed. And you could be a guinea pig.

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) is conducting a study which aims to recruit 200 families with healthy children aged 11 to 16 years old, and their parents, to receive either of the vaccines available in Hong Kong.

Professor Lau Yu-lung, chair of the Department of Health’s Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases, stated on a Commercial Radio Hong Kong show on Sunday that they hope the study’s findings will encourage teens to get vaccinated so their education can return to normal.

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According to HKU, 80 families have signed up for the study. Sixty families chose the BioNTech vaccine, and 20 decided on Sinovac. Ten people received their first dose on May 8, with nine of them within the target age range.

Lau noted the government will request data from BioNTech about vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds.

Sinovac is collecting data on its vaccine’s effects on children as young as three, and it will be ready after summer.

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Jaden Sit, 15, of St Joseph’s College, agreed that vaccinating the younger generation “seems to be a good long-term strategy”. But he was worried about possible side effects and would wait.

Karis Lee, 11, from Diocesan Girls’ School, believed teens should volunteer for the study.

“The vaccine could provide teens with a more all-rounded protection,” she said.

While participants in this study can choose which vaccine to receive, each family must receive the same type, report adverse reactions, and be monitored for three years, to check their immunity.

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