Govt launches outreach COVID-19 jabs, UM first

2021-04-27 03:29     Comment:0

Addressing yesterday’s weekly press conference about Macau’s novel coronavirus situation, Tai Wa Hou, the coordinator of the Health Bureau’s (SSM) COVID-19 vaccination programme, announced that the government is launching its outreach COVID-19 vaccination services today, when inoculations will first be carried out on the University of Macau (UM) campus for three consecutive days.

According to Tai, the on-site inoculations will be carried out for all UM students, teaching staff and all other staff from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the three-day period which will end on Thursday. The outreach vaccination service for the public university will be carried out by a 30-member medical team. So far 1,600 people have signed up for COVID-19 jabs which will be administered at the UM Sports Complex.

China’s Sinopharm inactivated jabs will be given during the first two days, while Germany’s BioNTech mRNA shots will be administered on the last day, according to Tai.

Tai said that the Health Bureau has completed planning and preparing its outreach COVID-19 vaccination services, for which an outreach inoculation team has been set up comprising doctors, nurses, assistants, IT technicians, and registration staff members – i.e. those at reception counters of the respective outreach vaccination venues who confirm the appointments of those arriving.

Tai underlined that all the team members have completed training and exercises enabling them to carry out on-site COVID-19 vaccinations and deal with the possibility that someone could suffer an acute adverse event following his or her COVID-19 vaccination, for which first aid equipment and various other medical devices have also been prepared, he said.

Tai said that for the time being the bureau’s outreach COVID-19 vaccination services will first cover the city’s various higher education institutions, large enterprises and large organisations, adding that the bureau “would like to see” them contacting the bureau to discuss the possible on-site inoculations at their respective venues.

Tai said that the number of medical and other staff members of an outreach COVID-19 vaccination team to provide on-site jabs for a particular entity will depend on the latter’s size and the size of its venue. “We will decide [the number of workers in an outreach team] each time in a flexible approach,” Tai said, adding that considering the total number of UM students, teaching staff and all other staff and the size of the UM Sports Complex, his bureau had decided to send an outreach inoculation team consisting of 30 members to the UM campus in Hengqin.

Tai said that his bureau expected to inoculate 600 to 700 people per day during the three-day outreach vaccination period at the University of Macau.

According to Tai, the bureau has a specific booking system for those whose institutions have joined the government’s outreach COVID-19 vaccination services, which is different from its appointment system for general members of the public to book a jab at its currently 13 COVID-19 vaccination facilities.

Tai said that while his bureau urges all UM students and staff to book their COVID-19 jabs online in advance, “walk-in” vaccinations will be available if places are still to be had “at the moment they walk in”.

All potential vaccinees will have to undergo health assessments before they are given their COVID-19 jabs at the government’s inoculation facilities. When they book a jab through the online appointment system, they have to fill in a health assessment questionnaire.

“We encourage all [UM] students and staff to make an appointment online for a COVID-19 jab in advance, not only to ensure that they can secure a quota [place], but also for the reason that they can undergo a health assessment on the online booking system in advance. Of course, we [Health Bureau healthcare workers] will always carry out health assessments before giving them their jabs at the outreach vaccination venue anyway,” Tai said.

Tai was quick to add that “if we have quotas available at a particular time, we can provide walk-in vaccinations for them”.

Tai also said that including the University of Macau, his bureau has so far contacted five entities to discuss the possible outreach COVID-19 vaccinations at their respective venues.

Tai underlined that whether outreach COVID-19 vaccinations services for certain institutions and organisations could be carried out would involve various factors, such as the size of their venues, their staffs’ willingness to get the jabs, and whether the institutions and organisations can arrange time for their staff to get vaccinated, because of which, he said, his bureau would need more time to continue discussing with other institutions and organisations the possible outreach COVID-19 vaccinations for them.

Over 95,000 jabs so far

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, 95,629 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered to 62,155 people in Macau, comprising 28,681 who had received their first jab and 33,474 who had received their second jab.

Meanwhile, Tai also noted that Macau’s COVID-19 vaccination rate has so far reached nine percent – i.e. nine percent of the population has received at least one jab, adding that another indicator of the progress of vaccination is that 14 doses have been administered per 100 people in Macau.

Tai said that the government was “surely dissatisfied” with the local vaccination rate reached so far. But he was quick to add that the number of people making appointments to have their jabs has been steadily increasing since the launch of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination programme in February. Initially after the vaccination drive was launched, several hundred people made an appointment per day, while 2,000 to 3,000 people have made an appointment per day recently, Tai said, adding that this shows residents’ willingness to get a COVID-19 jab has been increasing.

At the end of last year Macau’s population stood at 683,100, according to the Statistics and Census Bureau (DSEC).

Tai underlined that the government will stick to its principle of COVID-19 vaccinations only being given on a voluntary basis. “The bottom line is that the government will not force residents to get their jabs,” Tai said.

Tai revealed that the government is discussing with the University Hospital run by the private Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST) and the Macau Federation of Trade Unions (commonly known as Gung Luen) the possibility of setting-up COVID-19 vaccination facilities on their respective premises, so as to make it more convenient for residents to get inoculated with the aim of increasing Macau’s COVID-19 vaccination rate.

The Macau Federation of Trade Unions runs a number of clinics, officially known as Workers Clinics, in Macau.

This file photo taken from the website of the University of Macau (UM) yesterday shows the Sports Pavilion of its Sports Complex, where the government’s three-day outreach COVID-19 vaccinations will be carried out from today.

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