HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Hong Kong has seen vaccination rates in the city decline for two straight days, in a sign the government may face difficulties keeping up the momentum of the inoculation programme.
The city administered vaccines to 10,300 people on Thursday (March 4), 12 per cent lower than Wednesday's rate, which itself was a 10 per cent drop from the previous day.
Tuesday's total of 13,000 was the largest number of vaccinations since Hong Kong began giving shots to the public at the end of February.
While the data reflects only two days of declines, the slowdown is a concern as Hong Kong seeks a recovery after four waves of virus outbreaks.
The city is easing up on social-distancing rules, but needs residents to embrace its inoculation programme in order to achieve a full return to normal life.
After the initial batch of 70,000 vaccines from Chinese developer Sinovac Biotech Ltd was booked on the first day, residents have dialed back their interest in rushing to get inoculations.
Shots from both Sinovac and BioNTech SE-Pfizer Inc are not fully booked as of March 5, after the government opened up more availability this week.
Residents have been given the choice among several vaccine candidates. The only shots given since Feb 22 have been the first dose of the Sinovac vaccine, but inoculations using the BioNTech product will start on March 10.
Hong Kong is prioritising people age 60 years or above, healthcare and other essential workers.
The slowdown comes after health officials earlier this week reported the death of a 63-year-old man two days after he recieved the Sinovac shot.
The man had chronic and respiratory diseases, and authorities said the death has no direct link with the vaccine.
Other countries have reported fatalities after people have received inoculations, though the numbers have been small and nearly all cases involved underlying conditions.
Hong Kong's government was quick to address public concerns.
"For the death case, we came out at the first time to meet with the public in an open and honest manner," said Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip on a radio programme Thursday. "Transparency is the most important issue."