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Experts advise only 1 BioNTech jab for kids, no booster shot for now

16 September 2021

By The SUN 

The inflammation of the heart happened after the youngsters got their second BioNTech jab 

No new case of Covid-19 was reported today, Sept 16, the second time this month that zero infection was reported in Hong Kong. For the past several months, the city has managed to keep the infection rate to single digits, and nearly all of the new cases are imported.

The city’s total Covid-19 tally stands at 12,149 confirmed cases and one probable case.

Meanwhile, an expert panel that advises the government on its vaccination program has recommended that adolescents aged between 12 and 17 should just get one dose of the BioNTech vaccine instead of two.

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The shift comes after more than 30 teenagers reportedly suffered inflammation of the heart, mostly after the second dose, since the government started giving them BioNTech jabs from June. The ailment, known as Myopericarditis, is suspected to be a side effect of the vaccine.

Professor Lau Yu-lung, who chairs one of two scientific committees on the vaccination program, said the statistics showed the side effect was more prevalent than originally thought.

Because of this, it would be better if teenagers got only one dose to reduce the chance of heart inflammation.


He also said that getting the first jab should be enough protection to youngsters, given that Hong Kong hasn’t had any local Covid-19 cases for some time.

Lau said the advice strikes a balance between the vaccine’s risk and benefits.

“At the time the decision was made based on the best available evidence. If you view it in this context, obviously it was not a mistake at that time to recommend two doses,” he said.

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"But if you use the current understanding in the context of Hong Kong… we need to have the courage to come out to the public and do the proper risk communication that we’re going to switch from two doses to one dose.”

The experts also recommended doing intramuscular injection of the BioNTech vaccine at mid-thigh, especially for children and adolescents.

But Lau said that if the teenagers are going to study abroad, particularly in Europe or the United States, where a large number of infections has been reported, they should still get two vaccine doses.

More elderly people need to be vaccinated before the borders are opened say the experts

During the meeting, the experts also agreed that they need more information on whether a booster is shot is needed for everyone, particularly the immunocompromised, before making a decision.

They reviewed all the latest scientific evidence and concluded that the two Covid-19 vaccines used in Hong Kong, supplied by Sinovac and BioNTech, are still very effective against severe disease in the majority of the population six months after completing two doses.

Panel member David Hui said another factor they needed to consider was when Hong Kong would lift its border restrictions.

“Currently, we’re doing fine. There’re no cases. But when do we need to live with the virus? We need to be guided,” he said.

But before opening its borders, Hong Kong should start vaccinating the high-risk groups, particularly the elderly, he said.

Hui noted that vaccine coverage remains low, in particular among those who live in residential care homes.

Vaccination for this group of people should be done as soon as possible, as long as they are not suffering from acute illnesses, said the experts.

​Details of the interim recommendations are available at the CHP's website:



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