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Here's everything you need to know about Hong Kong's Covid-19 vaccine rollout

Got questions about the jab? This explainer outlines everything we know so far.

Tatum Ancheta
Written by
Tatum Ancheta
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July 28: Starting July 29, Hong Kong residents aged 70 or above will get walk-in Covid-19 vaccination passes to make the process easier for their inoculation. Twenty four Community Vaccination Centres (CVCs) – except those run by private hospitals – will get 4,600 tickets daily for the elderly passes. The tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis from 7.45am each day. Family members or carers of the elderly can be authorised to receive the tickets on their behalf and return at a designated time to receive the vaccination. Each elderly person can be accompanied by a maximum of two carers when they visit the centre, and the carers can also receive same-day vaccination. According to the government, depending on the response for the same-day ticket arrangement, the age limit may be expanded to seniors aged 60 or above. 

Since June, the government has extended the Covid-19 inoculation programme to residents below 16 years old. Hongkongers as young as 12 are allowed to get the BioNTech vaccine, but the minimum age for receiving the Sinovac vaccine remains at 18 years old.  

Last April, the government also announced that Hong Kong would cease BioNTech vaccination in Hong Kong by the end of September. So those who opt for the Pfizer jab will need to get their first vaccine dose by the end of August.

If you're looking for more information on what vaccines are available to the public or how and where to get them, this explainer will tell you everything we know so far. 

RECOMMENDED: To find out more about the city's social distancing regulations, visit this link for our regularly updated guide. Head to this page if you want to know about all the vaccine incentives and prizes in Hong Kong. 

Which vaccines are available in Hong Kong?
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Which vaccines are available in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong secured a total of 22.5 million doses of the vaccine from Sinovac Biotech (China; 50.4 to 65.3 percent efficacy), BioNTech-Fosun Pharma (Europe; 95 percent efficacy), and AstraZeneca-Oxford (United Kingdom; 62 to 90 percent efficacy), providing 7.5 million shots from each company.

As of April 9, the government suspended orders of the AstraZeneca-Oxford jabs. Of all the three vaccines, jabs from BioNTech-Fosun Pharma and Sinovac Biotech are the only ones approved to be used in the city. The first batch of CoronaVac arrived in Hong Kong on February 19, while BioNTech-Fosun Pharma became available in the city by the end of February and new batch of doses arrived by the first week of April. 

The government temporarily suspended the use of BioNTech vaccines last March 24 due to packaging problems in one batch of vials but have since resumed schedules since April 5 at all the Community Vaccination Centres. As of April 15, the government announced that BioNTech jabs will only be available in the city until end of September. 

Am I eligible for the vaccine?
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Am I eligible for the vaccine?

Priority groups eligible for the vaccination include residents and staff of residential care homes for the elderly, persons with disabilities, and other institutional facilities; healthcare workers and other essential services workers at risk of exposure to the virus (postal staff, hygiene workers, and disciplined forces); cross-border transport workers including truck drivers, fishermen, and air and sea crew; persons aged 60 years or above; and persons with chronic medical problems aged between 16 and 59 years.

As of March 16, priority groups included residents age 30 and above, domestic helpers, and students 16 or older who study overseas. On April 23, the age limit for BionNTech inoculation was extended to Hongkongers aged 16 to 29. And by the second week of June, residents between 12 to 15 years will finally be allowed to get the jab. 

Eligible Hong Kong residents can reserve a schedule and the place for vaccination via the government's 24-hour online booking system. Residents just need to provide HKID in order to receive a vaccination.

From July 29, Hong Kong residents aged 70 or above can bypass the booking app and get walk-in Covid-19 vaccination passes at all 24 Community Vaccination Centres (CVCs) – except those run by private hospitals – in the city. 

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Where can I get it?

Vaccines will be rolled out in phases and will be available in Community Vaccination Centres (CVCs) in 18 districts in Hong Kong (see the full list here; each centre will provide only one type of vaccine), general out-patient clinics of the Hospital Authority (HA), over 2000 private clinics, and residential care homes for the elderly and persons with disabilities.

When will I be able to get vaccinated?

The government's vaccination programme aims to cover the whole Hong Kong population, but it will be rolled out in phases. From February 26, priority groups are able to receive vaccines at the CVCs operating daily from 8am to 8pm. The vaccine programme was then rolled out in private hospitals and clinics by March.

The government also expanded the city's Covid-19 vaccination scheme to cover 5.5 million residents. Appointments for additional eligible groups already started on March 16. By April, the vaccination programme became available for residents aged 16 to 29. Details for the extension of the scheme to younger residents aged 12 years will be announced by the second week of June.

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Are we allowed to choose which vaccine to get?

Yes. Hong Kong residents can decide which coronavirus vaccine is right for them. Those aged 16 to 17 are allowed to get the BioNTech vaccine and the minimum age for receiving the Sinovac vaccine is 18 years old. 

How much will it cost?

Hong Kong residents (with a valid HKID) can join the government's vaccination programme free of charge. There is still no government announcement if hospitals can purchase their vaccine supplies to sell to the general public.

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Will it hurt?

The vaccine jab will feel the same as any other vaccine administered through injection, but short-lived side effects like soreness in the arm from coronavirus vaccines might appear higher than your regular flu shot. 

Are there any side effects?
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Are there any side effects?

Common side effects from the vaccines include headaches, chills, and muscle pain and may sometimes resemble the symptoms of Covid-19. After receiving the jab, you will be required to stay in the observation area for 15 to 30 minutes to see any adverse effects. 

Side effects may vary depending on the vaccine jabs. Click the links to find out more about Sinovac vaccine and BioNTech vaccine.

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How long will the vaccine last?

It may be the same as acquiring regular flu shots that require annual boosters, but since Covid-19 vaccinations are still in their initial phase, long-term efficacy is yet to be determined.

What if I have more questions?

If you're looking for more information, the government has set up a special site to answer queries. Visit covidvaccine.gov.hk for details.

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