Hong Kong to offer free Covid-19 vaccines to all its residents

Hong Kong's health secretary said the government plans to buy two doses of Covid-19 vaccine for every resident.
Hong Kong's health secretary said the government plans to buy two doses of Covid-19 vaccine for every resident.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG - Hong Kong plans to provide free coronavirus vaccines for all its residents, said Health Secretary Sophia Chan on Wednesday (Dec 2), as the city battles the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections.

Ms Chan told the Legislative Council that the vaccines would be offered first to three million people considered most at risk or vulnerable, public broadcaster RTHK reported. These include medical workers, patients with chronic diseases, and the elderly.

She added that receiving the vaccine would be voluntary.

The government has allocated HK$10 million (S$1.7 million) to promote and educate Hong Kongers on the programme, she added.

Additionally, government regulators would make the registration of Covid-19 vaccines a priority when they become available, according to RTHK.

"We will speed up the vetting procedures while ensuring the vaccines' safety, efficacy and quality… Authorities will take all necessary measures to allow the use of any vaccine which is proved to be safe and effective. We will not rule out introducing emergency legislation when necessary," RTHK reported Ms Chan as saying.

She revealed that the government plans to buy two doses of Covid-19 vaccine for every Hong Kong resident, and that the vaccines would come from at least two different manufacturers.

The city reported 103 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with 97 of them local and 15 with unknown sources. On Tuesday, the number of new cases was 82.

Hong Kong has ratcheted up curbs on clubs, bars and restaurants in the past week, and has also closed schools.