Hong Kong could extend coronavirus vaccination scheme to residents as young as 12

  • All 12 members of the government’s Advisory Panel on Covid-19 Vaccines supported expanding the city’s programme
  • One health expert suggested inoculation drives on school campuses

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Hong Kong saw a jump in bookings for coronavirus vaccine appointments after eligibility was widened to all residents aged 16 and older, and some hope the same thing will happen if the programme is expanded to include younger people. Photo: Bloomberg

Hongkongers as young as 12 could soon get vaccinated against the coronavirus after a government advisory panel unanimously backed expanding the city’s inoculation programme.

A source said all 12 members of the Advisory Panel on Covid-19 Vaccines had voted for recommending BioNTech shots to children aged 12 to 15.

The recommendation would be passed to Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee for final approval.

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The vote results came after Fosun Pharma, which distributes BioNTech vaccines in China, submitted an application to the Department of Health last Saturday to lower the minimum age threshold for vaccine eligibility to 12.

Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, who advises officials on the coronavirus crisis, said earlier that new data from clinical trials of the BioNTech vaccine supported lowering the threshold from 16 to 12 years old. He added that health experts in the city “largely echoed the same view”.

“The data [from the clinical trials] is ideal, and other places, such as the US and Europe, have approved [lowering the age threshold] so it has made it easier for us to decide,” Hui told a radio station on Wednesday.

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Hui cited phase-three clinical data from a Fosun Pharma study involving 2,260 people aged 12 to 15.

The protection rate against Covid-19 was 100 per cent for those with the vaccine compared to the placebo group, Hui said, adding that some experienced some common side effects, but no serious adverse reactions were reported.

Hui said the drive could be carried out on school campuses during the summer break, to get young people vaccinated before the start of the new academic year in September, and added that teachers should also get the jab because of the high number of interactions between educators and students on a day-to-day basis.