Published:  12:25 AM, 11 June 2021

HK opens vaccine drive to children aged 12 and older

HK opens vaccine drive to children aged 12 and older Students wearing face masks walk across a street in Hong Kong, Jun 10, 2021. -AP
Hong Kong will allow children aged 12 and above to receive the BioNTech  corona virus vaccine as it seeks to boost immunization rates in the city. Government officials said on Thursday (Jun 10) they will offer the vaccine to about 240,000 children from 12- to 15-years-old starting on Friday, joining other countries that have started vaccinating children. The move comes as Hong Kong is urging its 7.5 million population to get inoculated. Since its vaccination drive began in late February, just over 15 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

The city has seen widespread vaccine hesitancy due to a mistrust of the government and outsized fears of side effects after several people died following inoculations, despite a determination that the deaths were not directly related to the vaccine. "The government attaches high importance to getting adolescents and students vaccinated, and it is the government's hope that more students, parents and teachers will be vaccinated."

said Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip.

Since they are below 18, children must obtain parental approval before they can be vaccinated.

Health minister Sophia Chan urged parents to let their children get vaccinated to "help them to go back to school for their normal lives as soon as possible".

Students in kindergarten through secondary school are currently attending only half-day classes as part of preventive measures during the pandemic.

Hong Kong ended a six-week streak with no local infections last week when a 17-year-old girl tested positive despite having no travel history. Her mother and sister later also tested positive.

--- AP, Hong Kong

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