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Thousands rush to book for free Covid-19 vaccine

23 February 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

CE Lam says she didn't feel anything different after taking the vaccine yesterday

The online booking system for those who want to get the Covid-19 vaccine was reportedly jammed with thousands of people trying to vie for the first available slots for the jabs that will start on Friday, Feb 26.

According to Chief Executive Carrie Lam, more than 42,000 in the designated priority groups had secured appointments for the vaccine within just a nine-hour period, or from between 12 midnight last night until 9am today, Feb 23.

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Speaking ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting, Lam said this contradicts  suggestions that there had been a lukewarm response to the government’s vaccination program.

“The registration opened at midnight. Most citizens were sleeping, but some of them couldn’t wait and booked their vaccination. The response is enthusiastic,” she said.

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Lam was the first person in Hong Kong to receive the vaccine from mainland firm Sinovac yesterday, an event that was aired live on TV and social media. Her ministers followed suit, then members of Exco and the Legislative Council.

The top official said neither she nor any of the top officials suffered side effects from the vaccine, adding she wouldn’t be doing the press briefing if she felt unwell.


One million doses of the Sinovac vaccine was flown in from Beijing on Friday, Feb 19, just two days after a panel of experts recommended its use in Hong Kong. The vaccine was supposed to arrive at the start of the year, but was delayed due to Sinovac’s failure to submit data from its third clinical trial.

Hong Kong has ordered a total of 22.5 million doses of vaccines from three drug companies, including Sinovac, which is more than enough for the required two doses for  each of its 7.5 million residents.

Sinovac has the lowest efficacy rate among all vaccines ordered by HK

In announcing its decision to give the green light to the vaccine, the experts said the clinical trials showed Sinovac had an efficacy rate of over 62%, up from the previous 50.65%, after the second dose is administered 28 days after the first shot.

The second vaccine procured by the government, BioNTech, is due to arrive at the end of the month. Clinical trials show the vaccine to be between 72% to 85% effective after the first shot, and up to 95% after the second jab.

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For its third vaccine source, Hong Kong chose AstraZeneca, an Anglo-Swedish company. The vaccine is said to have a 76% efficacy after the first shot, and up to 90% effective after the second. It is expected to reach Hong Kong by the middle of the year.

Lam stressed she and her officials took the Sinovac jab, quashing talks they didn’t take the mainland vaccine because they had no confidence in it.

“It’s expected that there would be unfounded reports aimed at smearing the vaccination program. Several hours after government officials and I received the vaccine, rumors circulated online saying the jabs we took were not produced by Sinovac as we didn’t have confidence in the vaccine. We clarified immediately,” she said.

Lam said the government will continue to educate the public about the need to get the vaccine as soon as possible, and help the city back on its feet.

The elderly will be among the first to get first dibs at the jabs

Meanwhile, around 200 Hong Kong residents from the priority groups were given the vaccine in a test run held at the Central Library in Causeway Bay today.

The participants consisted of elderly residents – meaning those aged 60 and above – as well as those in “high risk” jobs like medical professionals and air crew.

Everyone who took the shot said they wanted to help Hong Kong to lower the infection rate, and get the economy back on track.

One elderly participant said Sinovac’s low efficacy rate is offset by the few side effects on those who get it. Another said he wanted to show support for the mainland-made vaccine out of patriotism.

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