This undated file photo shows a caregiver attending to a senior citizen at a care home in Hong Kong. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)
HONG KONG – Hong Kong’s health authorities on Friday launched a new round of outreach vaccination service special program for residential care homes (RCHs), with medical teams visiting RCHs at least once a week to provide COVID-19 and seasonal influenza vaccination services.
The move came after the government noticed a rise recently in the number of COVID-19 cases among residents and staff members of residential care homes as well as that of hospitalization cases of infected elderly.
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In seven days till Nov 24 in particular, the number of such care homes reporting cases surged by more than 20 percent compared to that of the previous week, according to the government.
Receiving COVID-19 vaccination is safe and highly effective in lowering the risks of severe cases and deaths for RCH residents in case of infection.
Spokesman, HKSAR government
The proportion of infected elderly RCH residents among hospitalization cases has also grown by nearly 10 percent compared with that of the previous week, whereas the fourth dose vaccination rate of the care home residents at present is only around 11 percent.
In view of the recent volatile COVID-19 epidemic situation, as well as the impending winter surge of influenza, the government launched a new round of special program which will last for four weeks, with a view to reinforce the protection barrier for the care homes.
According to experts' recommendations, adult residents who have not been infected with COVID-19 should receive the fourth dose at least 90 days after receiving the third dose.
Under the special program, the government will provide a special allowance for the visiting registered medical practitioners and outreach medical teams to cover the additional manpower and transportation costs involved.
The previous round of the special program was conducted from the end of July to the end of September.
An elderly man receives his first dose of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine at a community vaccination center in Hong Kong, Feb 25, 2022. (KIN CHEUNG / AP)
Medical teams had conducted over 4,300 visits to residential care homes altogether and administered more than 34,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to residents.
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The first, second and third dose vaccination rates at RCHs have increased significantly from the original 93 percent, 87 percent and 40 percent to 95 percent, 93 percent and 78 percent.
“Receiving COVID-19 vaccination is safe and highly effective in lowering the risks of severe cases and deaths for RCH residents in case of infection,” said a government spokesman.
Although the proportion of infected RCH residents among all hospitalization cases is on the rise, it remains at a relatively low level, added the spokesman.
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