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Hong Kong widens COVID-19 vaccine scheme to under 30s

Thu 15th April, 2021 9:21am
HONG KONG, April 15 (Reuters) - Hong Kong authorities said
on Thursday that the city's vaccine scheme would be widened to
include those aged between 16 to 29 years old for the first
time, as they aim to boost lackluster demand for inoculations in
the Asian financial hub.
    Hong Kong has seen a relatively slow take-up of vaccines
since rolling out the scheme in February, with only around 8% of
Hong Kong's 7.5 million residents having been inoculated so far.
    Patrick Nip, Secretary for the Civil Service, said that the
widening of the scheme would enable a total of 6.5 million
residents to take part. 
    "We appeal to the public to take the vaccine as soon as
possible so HK won’t fall into the vicious cycle of wave after
wave of outbreak," he said.    
    The widening of the scheme comes three days after the city's
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Hong Kong would loosen some
coronavirus restrictions for residents who have been fully
inoculated from late April.*:nL4N2LL0J1
    The slow take-up of vaccines in Hong Kong has been driven by
dwindling confidence in China's Sinovac vaccine and fears of
adverse reactions.
    The city began vaccinating residents with doses from Sinovac
 SVA.O  in February and started offering a vaccine developed by
BioNTech  22UAy.DE  in March. 
    Residents can choose which vaccine they take with the
BioNTech shot seeing far greater demand. On a daily basis, two
to three times more people booked inoculation with the BioNTech
shot than with the Sinovac one, according to government figures.
    Nip said residents aged 16 and 17 can only receive a
BioNTech dose while those older than 18 years old can choose
between the shot and the Sinovac vaccine.
    Around 632,000 people have received their first vaccination
dose, around 8% of the city's population.
    The former British colony has recorded around 11,600 total
coronavirus cases, far lower than other developed cities.

 (Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)
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