Govt lowers minimum age for Sinopharm jabs to 3

2021-11-23 03:40     Comment:0

The Macau government has decided to lower the minimum age for the administration of inactivated COVID-19 vaccines to three years from today.

Before today, Macau’s minimum age for inactivated vaccines stood at 12.

According to an executive order by Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng published in yesterday’s Official Gazette (BO), people aged between 3 and 59 are allowed to be inoculated with inactivated vaccines. Those aged 60 or over are permitted to be inoculated with this kind of vaccine if their health is good and they are facing an increased risk of COVID-19 infection.

China’s Sinopharm is currently the only inactivated novel coronavirus vaccine available in Macau.

According to the executive order, mRNA vaccines are permitted for people aged 12 or over – as previously.

Germany’s BioNTech is currently the only mRNA vaccine available in Macau.

Both types of COVID-19 vaccines currently available in Macau, Sinopharm and BioNTech, require two jabs for people to develop basic full immunity – i.e., both are two-dose vaccines.

Initially after Macau’s COVID-19 vaccination programme started early this year, Sinopharm jabs were only administered to those aged 18 or over, while BioNTech shots were only given to those aged 16 or over. The Macau government lowered the minimum age for BioNTech jabs from 16 to 12 in June, before lowering the minimum age for Sinopharm jabs from 18 to also 12 last month.

Macau’s COVID-19 vaccinations are currently carried out at 18 regular inoculation facilities, comprising two inoculation facilities at the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, eight public health centres, two public health stations, the Macau Forum inoculation facility, the Mong Ha vaccination facility, as well as the private Kiang Wu Hospital, the University Hospital run by the private Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST) in Taipa, and two clinics run by the Macau Federation of Trade Unions (commonly known as Gung Luen) – one of the city’s biggest community associations.

Three out of Macau’s 18 regular inoculation facilities are only used for BioNTech inoculations, namely the public hospital’s blood sample collection room, the Ocean Gardens Health Centre and the Ilha Verde Health Centre, while all other facilities, except the Macau Forum complex in Zape which offers both types of COVID-19 vaccines, are only used for Sinopharm inoculations.

COVID-19 jab rate reachs 70.25 pct 

Meanwhile, Macau’s COVID-19 vaccination rate reached 70.25 percent yesterday – i.e., around 70 percent of the population had received at least one jab, according to the latest official statistics.

According to the website of the Health Bureau’s (SSM) COVID-19 vaccination programme, as of 4 p.m. yesterday, 893,583 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in Macau, where 479,857 people had been had been inoculated against the novel coronavirus (receiving at least one jab), comprising 61,374 who had only received their first jab, 413,108 who had received their second jab, and 5,375 who had received their third jab.

A small number of people in Macau have been vaccinated against COVID-19 outside Macau. In general, their COVID-19 vaccination records are officially recognised in Macau.

Macau started administering COVID-19 vaccine booster jabs – also known as “third jabs” – on November 9 to those who were fully inoculated against the novel coronavirus at least six months ago.

In Macau, those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 refers to those who have received the last required shot of a novel coronavirus vaccine at least 14 days prior.

Macau’s COVID-19 booster jab programme covers all those aged 18 or over who were fully inoculated with the Sinopharm vaccine at least six months ago, and those in certain groups who were fully inoculated with the BioNTech vaccine at least six months ago, namely 1) all those aged 60 or over; 2) those aged between 18 and 59 with a weak immune system; and 3) those aged between 18 and 59 who are potentially subject to a higher COVID-19 risk, or are more likely to suffer a serious condition after infection.

Except immunocompromised individuals (such as cancer patients who are receiving radiotherapy, those who have had an organ transplant, and those with HIV/AIDS), all other eligible vaccinees receive a third COVID-19 vaccine dose as their booster jabs. People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised are first given a third primary dose at least 28 days after having their second COVID-19 jab, before receiving a fourth dose as their booster shots at least six months afterwards.

Moderately or severely immunocompromised individuals are covered by the booster jab programme as long as they are aged 12 or over, which is different to all other eligible vaccinees whose minimum age is 18 for the administration of a booster shot.

The official COVID-19 vaccination rate of 70.25 percent as of yesterday was calculated based on Macau’s population of 683,100 at the end of last year.

According to the latest available demographics, Macau’s population stood at 682,300 at the end of September.

The Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre reported Macau’s latest COVID-19 vaccination rates among different age groups on Friday last week – when the city’s inoculation rate of the whole population had reached the 70-percent benchmark. As of 11 a.m. on Friday last week, according to a statement by the centre that day, the vaccination rates among different age groups were: 58.5 percent among those aged between 12 and 19; 91.4 percent among those aged from 20 to 29; 94 percent among those aged between 30 and 39; 97.8 percent among those aged from 40 to 49; and 79.3 percent among those aged between 50 and 59.

According to the statement, as of 11 a.m. on Friday last week the COVID-19 vaccination rate among senior citizens stood at 57.8 percent among those aged between 60 and 69; 37.1 percent among those aged from 70 to 79; and 12.2 percent among those aged 80 or over. The statement said that the city’s COVID-19 inoculation rate among senior citizens was still low. 

Two security guards stand at the entrance of the Mong Ha COVID-19 vaccination facility earlier this year, which is used for Sinopharm inoculations. Photo: GCS

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