BioNTech vaccinations to start next week, no more Sinopharm jabs for seniors: govt

2021-02-25 02:48     Comment:0

The Macau government announced last night that it expects its COVID-19 inoculations with Germany’s BioNTech mRNA vaccine to start next week.

The government’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre made the announcement in a statement, which said that the first batch of BioNTech jabs will be delivered from Germany to Macau via Hong Kong “in the next few days”.

The statement also said that since the launch of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination drive early this month, 25,462 people have made an appointment to be inoculated against the novel coronavirus, 9,284 of whom have meanwhile had their first jab, as of 9 p.m. yesterday.

The government’s inoculation drive started on February 9 covering those in priority groups such as medical workers, firefighters, police and customs officers, air crew members, public transport drivers, staff of social service facilities, teaching staff and casino workers – i.e. the campaign’s first phase, before the second phase, which covers all local residents, commenced on Monday.

The local government has said that it will only decide when its COVID-19 vaccinations for non-resident workers, non-local students enrolled in Macau and all other non-locals who hold a permit to stay in Macau – i.e. the vaccination drive’s third phase – will start after assessing the operation of its COVID-19 vaccination drive’s first and second phases and the availability of COVID-19 vaccines in Macau.

The COVID-19 jabs are free of charge for local residents, non-resident workers and non-local students. However, other non-locals such as the family members of non-resident workers employed in Macau will have to pay 250 patacas per jab – which means that they will have to pay 500 patacas to be vaccinated against COVID-19 considering that each person requires two jabs. Participation in the vaccination drive is carried out on a voluntary basis.

The local government has said that people will need to have the second shot four weeks after being given their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccination.

The first batch of inactivated vaccines developed by Beijing-based China National Pharmaceutical Group (also known as Sinopharm) – 100,000 doses – was delivered to Macau on February 6. The Macau government has ordered a total of 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines.

Meanwhile, the centre pointed out that BioNTech’s mRNA jabs are suitable for people aged at least 16 and those aged 60 and over. Last night’s statement recommended that all those in that age group should opt for mRNA jabs.

No more Sinopharm jabs for senior citizens

The statement also pointed out that the Sinopharm jabs are suitable for people aged between 18 and 59. The statement underlined that, generally speaking, those aged 60 or over should only be given Sinopharm jabs after an assessment of their state of health and necessities, such as if they live in a high-risk environment. According to the statement, in the past few days a number of senior citizens did not meet the conditions for being vaccinated with Sinopharm. Consequently, the statement said that from now on no more appointments by people aged 60 or over for Sinopharm jabs will be accepted, with the aim of ensuring the smooth operation of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination drive.

A medical worker administers a COVID-19 jab to a man at the Areia Preta Health Centre on Monday, the first day of the start of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination drive for all local residents. Photo: MPDG

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