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Booking A COVID-19 Vaccine For Children Age 5 To 11 In Hong Kong

Booking a COVID-19 vaccine for kids in Hong Kong
Health & WellnessPost Category - Health & WellnessHealth & Wellness

With the latest wave of Coronavirus, Omicron, the news that COVID-19 vaccines are now available for children ages 5 to 11 in Hong Kong is very welcome to parents. But when will COVID-19 vaccines for children be available and how can you book? Here’s everything you need to know about COVID-19 vaccines for all the family in the 852.

The last couple of years have been a crash course in medical jargon that we wish we’d never had to bother with. Coronavirus, PPE, particle filtration, face masks, respirators, quarantine, quarantine bubbles, quarantine hotels, PCR tests and mRNA (which at least has a more hopeful ring to it!). 

Amidst the tumult that is Hong Kong’s latest wave of COVID-19, specifically the Omicron variant, news that the Hong Kong government vaccination programme will now include children aged 5 to 11 is a huge relief for many.

Other than the priority groups (who are all hopefully in the process of getting their third COVID-19 vaccine), vaccinations for our precious children against the Coronavirus are finally opening up. They, too, can now apply for the much-needed shot in the arm – so to speak! Read on to find out how to book a COVID-19 vaccine for children in Hong Kong.

Read more: Hong Kong COVID Tests: PCR Tests, RAT Tests And Community Testing Centres

Editor’s note: This article is intended to present information about the available COVID-19 vaccinations for adults and children in Hong Kong. As with any vaccinations or medical-related advice, always consult your doctor for confirmation and insights that are specific to you and your family before taking any medication.

Booking a COVID-19 vaccine for kids in Hong Kong

Latest COVID-19 Restrictions In Hong Kong And The New Vaccine Pass

With the news of the latest COVID-19 related restrictions and social-distancing rules in Hong Kong, including the requirement of showing a Vaccination Pass in order to even be allowed into certain premises (such as shopping malls and supermarkets), those who had previously not been vaccinated at all are now being pressed to do so (book your vaccine here). The Vaccine Pass will take effect from Thursday, 24 February 2022, and some venues will close from Thursday, 10 February 2022, until the new Vaccine Pass is introduced on the 24th.

StayHomeSafe Scheme

There has also been changes to rules surrounding what happens if you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, or if you contract it yourself. The latest StayHomeSafe scheme introduced by the Hong Kong Government details how you can home quarantine in certain situations with an electronic wristband. If you are unsure, reach out to the Home Affairs Department (HAD) “StayHomeSafe Scheme” Hotline for more details.

Read more: Keep Kids Entertained In Quarantine: First-Hand Experience And Tips

COVID-19 Vaccines For Children In Hong Kong (Age 5 to 11)

While those aged 12 and above are already able to book a COVID-19 vaccination in Hong Kong, children aged from 5 to 11 now also have two COVID-19 vaccine options available to them (see the Hong Kong Government’s latest press release):

Sinovac vaccine for children in Hong Kong:

  • Children aged 5 to 11 can receive their first Sinovac vaccine from Friday 21, January 2022. Sinovac vaccine bookings are open now.

You can also make an appointment for the Sinovac vaccine via private doctors or clinics that participate in the Vaccination Programme. Click here for details.

BioNTech vaccine for children in Hong Kong:

  • BioNTech vaccination bookings for children starts on Wednesday, 9 February 2022
  • First BioNTech vaccinations for kids age 5 up will commence on Wednesday, 16 February 2022

According to the Government’s press release, “The BioNTech vaccine for children requires a special dilution procedure, and in accordance with the recommendation by the Joint Scientific Committees and Expert Advisory Panel that an interval of 12 weeks is required for children to receive the first and the second doses of the BioNTech vaccine.”

The press release also goes on to say that, there will be a special appointment service for schools at the CCVCs with a transport service from and to schools.

How To Book A Covid-19 Vaccine For Children In Hong Kong

Parents or guardians can make reservations for little ones to receive either of the vaccinations at the CCVCs or CVCs through the 24-hour online booking system.

Note: The booking process online might not be as straight forward for some

In this case, you can complete the booking in person at a Post Office. You will need the child’s passport and Hong Kong ID if you have one, a consent letter (the Government consent form can be found here), plus your own ID documents (best to take passports and HKIDs and any other forms of identification with you just in case). It might be a good idea to also take the child’s birth certificate as well. Keep a close eye on the information page for these vaccines.

What to take with you for the vaccination

Parents or legal guardians must accompany the child on the day. According to the Government’s press release, you will need to take your child’s original identity documents on the date of vaccination, it’s probably a good idea to take all of yours as well. If the identity documents don’t have a photo of your child, such as the birth certificate, you can take with you school documents (such as school handbooks) that do have a photo of the child to present at the time of vaccination.

Children Community Vaccination Centres (CCVC) In Hong Kong

Younger kids that are receiving the BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be kept separate from older children and adults having the same vaccine, most likely due to the dilution process. The Government will set up dedicated Children Community Vaccination Centres (CCVC) in the city (more information can be found here). There are currently three CCVC locations:

  • Hong Kong Children’s Hospital, Kowloon
  • Yuen Chau Kok Sports Centre, Sha Tin
  • HKU Children Community Vaccination Centre at Gleneagles Hospital Hong Kong, Wong Chuk Hang

For the Sinovac vaccine, kids age 5 or above can go along to the regular Community Vaccination Centres (CVC), along with all other ages getting this vaccine.

Is It Safe To Vaccinate Children Against COVID-19?

The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) has concluded that it is safe for children age 5 and above to receive the Pfizer vaccine. If you’re looking for local information, check out the findings from the Advisory Panel on COVID-19 Vaccines. You can also get updates on recommendations surrounding children receiving the COVID-19 vaccines from the scientific committees under the Centre for Health Protection.

If you’re unsure whether you should give the COVID-19 vaccine to your children, or would like more clarity on the safety of vaccinating your Child against COVID-19, lookout for a free webinar by Bizibuz on Tuesday, 15 February 2022. The session will explore the facts and myths regarding the vaccine for kids with the help of Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Dr. Agnes Leung, a specialist in paediatric immunology, allergies and infectious diseases. Dr. Leung is also Assistant Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Book your spot here.

COVID-19 Vaccines For Under 5 Years Old In Hong Kong

Currently, children under the age of 5 cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Hong Kong. The World Health Organization (WHO) has the following statement on vaccinations for children. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are due to meet this month to discuss the possibility of vaccinating children aged 6 months to 4 years of age. Watch this space.

COVID-19 Vaccines And The Omicron Variant

In December 2021, The University of Hong Kong and The Chinese University of Hong Kong conducted a study on the effectiveness of the vaccines against the latest Omicron variant. It found that a third dose of the BioNTech vaccine given to those who either received two doses of the same vaccine or Sinovac, “provides protective levels of protective antibody against the Omicron variant.” [SIC] (Read the full press release.) 

As the most recent lockdown is due to the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, it is highly recommended that all people get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Read more: Expert Advice: How Will Social Distancing Affect My Child?

More information on the COVID-19 vaccines in Hong Kong:

Which COVID-19 Vaccines Are Available In Hong Kong
How Do These Vaccines Work?
Can You Get COVID-19 In Between The Vaccine Shots?
Can You Get COVID-19 After Getting The Tripple Doses?
Should You Take The Jab If You’ve Already Been Infected With COVID-19?
Is It Mandatory To Get Vaccinated?
COVID-19 Vaccine During Pregnancy Or Breastfeeding
What About The Long-Term Health Effects Of These Vaccines?
When Will Things Go Back To Normal?

Read more: The Best Masks For Kids And Adults When Out And About

COVID-19 Vaccines In Hong Kong

COVID-19 Vaccines Available In Hong Kong

Hong Kong government has ordered from two major pharmaceuticals to inoculate its 7.5 million population. The choices so far are:

  1. Sinovac Biotech (Hong Kong Limited) CoronaVac vaccine based on an inactivated virus; offered at hospitals and private clinics (see the WHOs information on Sinovac
  2. BioNTech/Fosun Pharma vaccine (also known commercially as Comirnaty) which uses mRNA technology; needs extreme refrigeration temperatures, is available at community centres. BioNTech is the developer of the vaccine and it partnered with manufacturing companies Pfizer and Fosun to make and distribute the vaccines. (See more information on BioNTech from the WHO here.) 

The AstraZeneca in collaboration with the University of Oxford (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) vaccine was initially going to be offered in the 852 but is no longer available in Hong Kong.

Here’s an overview of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines in Hong Kong:

Pharma Company: Sinovac BioNTech/Fosun/ Pharma/Pfizer*
Vaccine Brand Name: CoronaVac BNT162b2
Vaccine Type: Inactivated Viral mRNA
Country of Origin: China Germany
Shots Required: 3 3
Effectiveness: 50 to 65% 95%
Storage Requirement: Standard refrigerator temp at 2 -8C -70C in super cold containers

Here’s the full list of side effects for FoSun/BioNTech and Sinovac.

*In Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China, Pfizer is not in the equation for the BioNTech jab. It’s a bit confusing – basically for Greater China, Fosun Pharma has the sales, regulatory and distribution rights. A million doses have been ordered for Hong Kong, manufactured in Germany but distributed by Fosun Pharma. For the rest of the world, Pfizer is the co-supplier of the BioNTech formula.

How Do These COVID-19 Vaccines Work?

Vaccines typically take decades of research to develop. The fastest one so far was the mumps vaccine which took four years to hit the shelves (though its development relied heavily on groundwork that had previously been done). But we’re living in miraculous times.

Within a year of identifying the COVID-19 virus in Wuhan, China, the jabs were not only ready but being distributed at astonishing speed! As of now, close to 4.5 billion people around the globe have already been fully inoculated! In January 2020, this was an inconceivable thought. Unprecedented even for science.

Until now, there were two main ways to make vaccines:

  1. Those that use the whole microbe
  2. The sub-unit ones that use just a specific part of the virus

Vaccines using the whole microbe were either: “live-attenuated(live, but weakened),  “inactivated’” (killed) or “viral vector” varieties (a safe virus created with certain pathogens that trigger the immune response). These three types have been used for decades in flu, Polio, MRR vaccinations, etc. The sub-unit type of vaccine uses just the proteins or sugars of a virus. Many childhood vaccines like those for tetanus and diphtheria belong to this type.

But the BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (and Moderna’s in the US) relies on mRNA technology. Never in the history of mankind has this method been used on such a grand-scale before! The World Health Organization (WHO) explains the different types of vaccine well.

How Does mRNA Technology Work Vs Traditional Vaccines?

The Messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine consists of two shots given three weeks apart and doesn’t need the live virus at all. In fact, it only uses the virus’ genetic code rather than any part of the virus itself. Once injected into the muscles, it stimulates the body’s own immune response so that the immune system thinks of it as an instruction manual for tackling the intruder. It reads those instructions, makes its own protein spikes which are not enough to mimic COVID-19 symptoms but the process trains the body to fend off the real thing.

Beijing-based Sinovac’s CoronaVac is an inactivated vaccine, i.e. it uses a dead virus to stimulate the body’s immune system. In the vaccine business, this method has been used for over a century in vaccines such as flu and polio. The efficacy of CoronaVac might be low (50 to 63%) but the technology is tried and tested, therefore, some would say, it’s a safer bet.

Read more: COVID-19 And Children In Hong Kong: Doctor Q & A

Book a COVID-19 Vaccine In Hong Kong

Can You Get COVID-19 In Between The Vaccine Shots?

Yes. According to data published in December 2020, the BioNTech vaccine was roughly 52% effective after the first dose. That means half the inoculated people can still get infected after the first shot and protection for the other half comes with caveats – a level of immune response kicks in around the 12th day of the first shot. Precisely why, it’s uber important to keep your guard up at all times.

Even if you have received three COVID-19 vaccines you can still contract the illness, just not as severe as if you are unvaccinated. A large proportion of hospitalisations around the world are now linked to unvaccinated individuals.

Can You Get COVID-19 After Getting The Triple Doses?

Yes. Sinovac’s CoronaVac comes with a 50% to 65% efficacy rate whilst the BioNTech jab has a 95% efficacy rate (once both vaccines have been administered). Whatever vaccine you choose, complete immunity comes only around a week after the second shot. Before that, you’re still vulnerable. A vaccine is not a quick pass to the pre-COVID lifestyle just yet.

Even with BioNtech’s 95% efficacy, for every 100 people who roll up their sleeves, 5 will still end up with an infection. The problem might be our mentality – once we get the jabs, we quickly develop a false sense of security believing that we’re the 95% group, no one thinks they’re the unfortunate 5%.

Should You Take The Jab If You’ve Already Been Infected With COVID-19?

Yes, please! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US advises that immunity from the vaccine is far more potent and lasts longer than natural immunity acquired post an infection. A vaccine gives higher levels of antibodies, so yes, get a shot, if you can!

Is It Mandatory To Get Vaccinated?

Not at the moment but most countries are now making life for unvaccinated individuals increasing difficult (such as the new Vaccine Pass in Hong Kong). But if you are an anti-vaxxer or just unsure on this one then turn to science to make an informed choice. There is plenty of fake news and scaremongering, such as fears about RFID microchips in the vaccines.

While there are often alarming headlines about deaths and near-lethal side effects following the COVID-19 jabs, no evidence linking these has been found. There is also such a thing as context.

Read more: Sassy Mama’s Roundup Of Couples And Family Counsellors In Hong Kong

Book COVID-19 Vaccines for children in Hong Kong

COVID-19 Vaccine During Pregnancy Or Breastfeeding

Should pregnant or breastfeeding individuals take the COVID-19 vaccines available in Hong Kong? This question was a biggie back in 2020 and lit up all the mum chats! Especially for those who were expecting their baby during that time. Back then, there was a lot of uncertainty but thankfully now the Hong Kong College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have said that pregnant or breastfeeding people can receive the COVID-19 vaccines.

Read the current statement from the Hong Kong College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for the most recent information and its views.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) does recommend that “COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant individuals,” and that the vaccines “should be offered to lactating individuals similar to non-lactating individuals.”

The UK have also issued statements saying that, “The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has now advised that pregnant women are more at risk of severe COVID-19 disease. They are reminding pregnant women to have their COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible. They should not delay vaccination until after they have given birth.” Read the full statement here.

Read more: Pregnancy And Birth During COVID-19 In Hong Kong: Baby’s First Year

What About The Long-Term Health Effects Of COVID-19 Vaccines?

Some anxiety surrounding these vaccines is understandable. For one, they have been developed in record time and in the case of BioNTech (and Moderna in the US), the technology itself is new. Several factors to consider that worked in favour of the current COVID-19 vaccines:

  1. Research on coronavirus vaccine did not begin in 2020, it started more than a decade ago.
  2. COVID-19 vaccines using mRNA is new but the concept has been researched in previous episodes of Zika, influenza, rabies for over three decades now. In 2017, German pharma company, CureVac came out with results of phase 1 of its rabies vaccine trial in reputed medical journal The Lancet.
  3. With the collective sense of urgency to get a vaccine and move on with our lives, the international scientific community has been studying and sharing research on virus behaviour and early trends.
  4. The US FDA and governing medical bodies in countries around the world have fast-tracked vaccine approvals (in some cases, granting use as part of emergency response).
  5. While no unusual side-effects or deaths were seen in clinical trials for any of these vaccines, manufacturers will have to continue to evaluate and monitor the situation.

As far as the mRNA vaccines go, it’s important to note that the vaccine itself cannot give you COVID-19 and the mRNA tech does not alter our DNA. While all long-term side effects aren’t known yet, evidence suggests that it is safe.

Read more: The Best Masks For Kids And Adults When Out And About

COVID-19 Vaccines for children In Hong Kong

When Will Things Go Back To “Normal”?

This is the million-dollar question! Not being pessimistic or optimistic – our normalcy depends on the collective community. The turning point is not going to be on yours or my shoulders alone – as mass vaccinations increase, there should be extreme care to not get infected in between or post jabs until the whole population becomes immune. Though we’re itching to visit family back home and travel, do grocery runs without a mask, live without restrictions, there might still be a way to go in Hong Kong just yet.

And a lot of this doesn’t depend on clinical research now, it depends on us. We’re counting on one another for the light at the end of the tunnel. Is this the beginning of the end? We hope so.

Read more: Raising A Child With An Immune Deficiency During COVID-19

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in March 2021 by Nikita Mishra and updated in February 2022 By Alex Purcell Garcia.

Main image courtesy of Getty Images, Image 1 courtesy of CDC via Pexels, image 2 courtesy of Hakan Nural via Unsplash, image 3 courtesy of CDC via Unsplash, image 4 courtesy of Migs Reyes via Pexels, image 5 courtesy of Ketut Subiyanto via Pexels.

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