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Published: 10:03, January 13, 2022 | Updated: 14:13, January 13, 2022
HK panel moots BioNTech jabs for children aged 5-11
By Wang Zhan
Published:10:03, January 13, 2022 Updated:14:13, January 13, 2022 By Wang Zhan

Primary school students line up for a school bus in Hong Kong, Jan 11, 2022. Amid a surge in coronavirus infections in the city, the SAR government’s vaccine advisers have recommended one-third of a dose of the BioNTech vaccine for adults for children aged five to 11. (KIN CHEUNG / AP)

HONG KONG – An advisory panel of the Hong Kong government on COVID-19 vaccines has recommended allowing children aged five to 11 to receive one-third of a dose of BioNTech's Comirnaty vaccine for adults.

In the wake of the recent surge in coronavirus infections, 12 more elderly health centers (EHCs) will provide a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination service with the Sinovac jab to all citizens aged 65 or above starting Thursday, in addition to the three such centers currently providing the service.

The advisory panel on vaccines, which met on Wednesday, reviewed the efficacy and safety data of the BioNTech and Sinovac vaccines and suggested that children aged 5 to 11 can receive one-third of the BioNTech jab dose for adults for off-label use.

The application on a pediatric vial packaging for children aged five to 11 is still pending, it pointed out.

In November, the Hong Kong government approved lowering the age of eligibility for the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine to three years old, down from 18 years old.

Taking into account the current pandemic situation, the panel recommended that the government should provide the relevant information to the joint scientific committees under the Centre for Health Protection for consideration on whether and how a fractional dose of the vaccine for adults should be administered to those children.

From Jan 17, Silka Seaview Hotel Hong Kong will be used as a quarantine hotel for close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases

Considering that no new significant safety signal was identified, it stressed that continuous monitoring was still required. Benefits of the two vaccines still outweighed the risks and there was no need to recommend changes regarding the use of these vaccines, it added.

The panel will submit its views to the secretary for food and health for consideration.

The government said it will continue to follow up with Fosun Pharma on extending the age eligibility of the BioNTech vaccine to cover children aged five to 11, adding it will also ensure that the authorized vaccines satisfy the criteria of safety, efficacy and quality.

Earlier in June last year, the government opened its COVID-19 vaccination drive to children over the age of 12, allowing them to receive the Comirnaty vaccine after reviewing the pandemic situation and the recommendation of the advisory panel on COVID-19 vaccines. 

SENIORS' WALK-IN JAB SERVICE EXTENDED

From Thursday to Feb 28, 15 elderly health centers will offer the jab service every Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 12:30pm and from 2 pm to 6:30 pm, as well as on Saturday from 8:30 am to 1 pm, except public holidays, the Department of Health said, adding that no prior booking is required for this.

Senior citizens need to present their Hong Kong identity cards for registration on a first come, first served basis until the daily quota is full, it said.

READ MORE: HK expands walk-in vaccination services

While the booked medical and allied health consultation services for members and the seasonal influenza vaccination service for people aged 65 or above will continue to be provided at the 15 EHCs, other services will remain suspended.

CLOSE CONTACTS QUARANTINE HOTEL

From Jan 17, Silka Seaview Hotel Hong Kong will be used as a quarantine hotel for close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases, the government announced on Wednesday.

With immediate effect, the hotel, which is currently a designated quarantine hotel, temporarily ceases to be a DQH and stops taking reservations from inbound travelers.

People undergoing quarantine there will be transferred in phases to other DQHs to continue their isolation course in accordance with infection control guidelines.

Due to the recent hike in cases, a substantial increase has been seen in the number of close contacts that need to be quarantined, said the government.

In addition to the Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre, the Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village as well as three quarantine hotels are now activated. The government is also making preparations for reopening the Junior Police Call Permanent Activity Centre in Pat Heung and the Sai Kung Outdoor Recreation Centre for receiving close contacts and their household contacts.

Including the 268 units to be provided by Silka Seaview Hotel Hong Kong, there will be altogether around 5,000 units for the quarantine of close contacts.

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