The HKSAR government has unveiled plans to roll out booster vaccination shots for high-risk patients.
Under recommendation, the Hong Kong government said it would make available booster shots to certain groups of immunocompromised patients who are at a high risk of infection including cancer patients, organ transplant recipients, advanced-stage HIV patients, and patients taking active immunosuppressive drugs.
Those who have received two doses of Sinovac and are at a higher risk of infection would also be eligible for the booster shot. That includes the elderly aged 60 or above; healthcare workers; persons with chronic illnesses; and workers at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational setting (e.g. personnel participating in anti-epidemic related work; personnel providing cross-boundary transportation or working at control points and ports).
The third dose of the vaccine would be made available for free at community testing centers to eligible people. Bookings for the programme opened on 5 November while the programme would be rolled out from 11 November 2021.
In a press release, the government said it recommends the Fosun/BioNTech vaccine for the third dose for the above persons as it may elicit a better immune response. Members of the public may choose the type of vaccine according to their own circumstances and suggested that they consult their physician if necessary.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she would be taking the Sinovac vaccine as her booster shot in an interview with i-cable news, and that she hadn't experienced any side effects after her first two doses.
"For individuals aged 18 or above in the aforementioned higher risk populations who have received two doses of Fosun/BioNTech vaccine, an additional dose of Fosun/BioNTech vaccine administered at least six months from the second dose is recommended. These persons may, however, choose Sinovac vaccine as the third dose," the press release said.
"Currently, individuals who are fully recovered from COVID-19 are only required to receive one dose of vaccine. Recovered patients should discuss with their physician whether two doses of COVID-19 vaccine are required, and an interval of six months between the two doses is recommended."
Channels for eligible persons to receive a third dose
- From 5 November, eligible persons for the booster shot programme can make reservations through the website at 11 community vaccination centers around Hong Kong or at designated Hospital Authority clinics.
- Same-day tickets will be made available at community vaccination centers on a first-come-first-serve basis except at those located at private hospitals.
- Visitors to nine public hospitals can receive the Fosun/BioNTech vaccination without prior booking or make reservations for the Sinovac vaccination through private doctors or clinics enrolled in the Vaccination Programme.
Procedures for third dose reservation and vaccination
- Immunocompromised patients should bring along with them a medical certificate for the third dose that shows the date of the second dose. As the booster is recommended four weeks after the second vaccination shot
- For immunocompromised persons aged between 12 and 17, they are required to bring along a consent form signed by their parents. They must be accompanied by their parents to the CVC on the day of vaccination.
- For persons with a higher risk of infection, persons aged 60 or above can show their Hong Kong identification document for verification.
- Healthcare workers and workers at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational setting can provide their work certifications or make a declaration stating that they work in the relevant trades.
- For individuals who have taken two doses of Sinovac vaccine and fall outside the higher risk groups, if they need to take the third dose with priority for special reasons, such as they need to travel to overseas places with high risks of infection in the near future, they may bring along their air tickets to the CVCs. Their requests will be handled on a discretionary basis.
- Persons with chronic illnesses should consult their physician on the appropriate time to receive the third dose. To facilitate their vaccination, relevant documentary proof is not necessary.
- The Fosun/BioNTech vaccine is for persons aged 12 or above while the Sinovac vaccine is for persons aged 18 or above.
Lead image / 123RF