An infectious disease expert has urged the government to start letting children under 16 receive coronavirus vaccines as soon as possible, especially being as the territory’s stock of BioNTech jabs is set to expire in August, RTHK reports.
More than 800,000 doses of the German-made vaccine are in storage in the SAR, the government says. It warns that if these are left unused, they may be given away to other places, and further deliveries of the vaccine could be postponed or canceled if it appears they would not be needed.
“As it takes time for the production of vaccines, quality control, and transport and logistics, etc, even if the demand for vaccines by members of the public suddenly surges later on, it would not be possible for the relevant vaccines to be replenished within this year,” the administration said in a statement.
But Dr Joseph Tsang Kay-yan from the Medical Association told an RTHK program on Wednesday that before Hong Kong gets to the point where it has no BioNTech jabs to offer people, it should have at least extended the vaccination program to include children aged 11 to 15.
He noted that other places, including the US, Canada and Singapore, are already allowing under 16s to receive the vaccine.
“Up until now, we still cannot approve the jab for this age group, I feel disappointed. How much longer will it take?” asked Tsang.
“The government says some jabs will be expired by the end of August and will go to waste, and it’s already the end of May now. When will the government allow young people aged 11 to 15 to take the shots?”
At present, Hongkongers aged 16 and above are eligible to get the shots, and the administration announced on Tuesday that it will soon open bookings for mainlanders holding two-way permits. By July, asylum seekers could also be receiving the jabs, it said.
The SAR also has vaccines made by China’s Sinovac. Only those aged 18 and above are currently allowed to receive them.