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Macau mulls 3rd COVID-19 jab for certain target groups

2021-10-14 03:19     Comment:0

The Health Bureau (SSM) says that it is planning to administer a third COVID-19 vaccine dose as a booster jab to certain groups of people such as those with a weaker immune system and those working in occupations that are potentially subject to a higher COVID-19 risk.

The bureau has underlined that it is still analysing data and information collected from research studies on the matter worldwide and the administration of booster jabs in certain other countries and regions, before deciding when the booster shots should be rolled out in Macau.

Tai Wa Hou, a clinical director of the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, made the remarks during Tuesday’s press conference by the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre.

The centre did not hold a press conference, which normally takes place at 5 p.m. daily, yesterday due to Typhoon Signal No. 8, which was replaced with Strong Wind Signal No. 3 at 5:30 p.m. yesterday.


This file photo shows a health worker administering a Sinopharm COVID-19 jab to a woman at the Mong Ha inoculation facility on June 21, the first day of its operation. Photo: GCS

According to French newswire AFP, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) vaccine advisers recommended on Monday that people with weakened immune systems should be offered an additional dose of any of the WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines. The UN health agency’s experts also said over-60s fully immunised with China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines should be offered an additional third COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Both types of COVID-19 vaccines currently available in Macau, China’s Sinopharm inactivated vaccine and Germany’s BioNTech mRNA vaccine, require two jabs for people to develop immunity.

Several COVID-19 vaccines have been given WHO approval for emergency use during the pandemic, namely BioNTech, Janssen, Moderna, Sinopharm, Sinovac and AstraZeneca. They are all two-dose vaccines, except the Janssen jab.

Reporters asked during Tuesday’s press conference whether Macau would roll out a third COVID-19 vaccine dose as a booster shot. Tai replied that “many places in the world have started administering a third shot, and Macau is also planning [a third COVID-19 vaccine dose as a booster jab]”.

Tai underlined that the Health Bureau would only consider starting the administration of a third COVID-19 vaccine dose as a booster jab in Macau after it finishes studying the relevant data and information worldwide and after Macau reaches a high rate of the population which has been fully (twice) inoculated against COVID-19.

Tai said that if Macau rolls out a third COVID-19 vaccine dose, the booster shots would be administered to certain target groups first, such as 1) those with a chronic disease, 2) those with weakened immune system whose antibody levels would normally drop more quickly than others after having been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 3) those working in occupations that are potentially subject to a higher risk to the novel coronavirus, such as medical workers and those working in the frozen food sector.

Tai said that only after vaccinating the target groups with a third dose, would the Health Bureau extend the booster shots to the general public. 

‘Good news’ about Macau’s inoculation rate

Meanwhile, Tai said during Tuesday’s press conference that “it is good news” that Macau’s COVID-19 vaccination rate had reached 59 percent as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday – i.e., 59 percent of the population had received at least one jab.

According to the website of the Health Bureau’s COVID-19 vaccination programme, as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, 720,832 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered to 403,547 people in Macau, comprising 83,877 who had received their first jab and 319,670 who had received their second jab.

Tai also reported Macau’s latest COVID-19 vaccination rates among different age groups during Tuesday’s press conference. As of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, according to Tai, the vaccination rates among different age groups were: 36 percent among those aged between 12 and 19; 78.6 percent among those aged from 20 to 29; 83 percent among those aged between 30 and 39; 88 percent among those aged from 40 to 49; and 68 percent among those aged between 50 and 59.

According to Tai, as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday the COVID-19 vaccination rate among senior citizens stood at 43.6 percent among those aged between 60 and 69; 24.8 percent among those aged from 70 to 79; and 6.3 percent among those aged 80 or over.

Tai also said that the COVID-19 inoculation rate of the target group aged 12 or over had reached 66.5 percent as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday – i.e., about two thirds of the population aged 12 or over had received at least one jab.

Currently, Sinopharm jabs are administered to those aged 18 or over in Macau, while BioNTech shots are given to those aged 12 or over.

The vaccination rate among public servants stood at 78 percent on Tuesday, Tai said.

Tai noted that the COVID-19 vaccination rates among certain age groups have reached the Macau government’s target of at least 80 percent, and he encouraged those in other age groups to “work hard” to achieve the target inoculation rate of at least 80 percent as well, with the aim of helping build a COVID-19 immunity barrier in Macau as soon as possible.

Tai reaffirmed that only after Macau reaches a COVID-19 vaccination rate of at least 80 percent of the population, could the local government consider switching to the “living with the virus” COVID-19 approach and lifting its entry ban on foreign visitors. Tai said that without an inoculation rate of at least 80 percent in Macau “there is no need at all for civil society to think about the topics”.

Tai underlined that even though people would still possibly be infected with COVID-19 after having been inoculated, COVID-19 vaccinations can significantly reduce the risk of suffering a serious condition or dying from the novel coronavirus disease in case jabbed people are still infected with COVID-19.

Macau’s COVID-19 vaccinations resume today after they were suspended yesterday due to the No. 8 typhoon signal.

The COVID-19 tests of certain target groups such as renovation and laundry workers recommenced yesterday evening.  (More on COVID-19 on pages 6, 8 & 9)

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