A group of pharmacists has suggested the government expand its vaccination drive, as it backed officials' plan to ease Covid-19 restrictions only for people who have been inoculated.
Representatives of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists were speaking a day after Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced initiatives that will allow restrictions to be eased on bars, restaurants, cross-border travel and care home visits.
The group noted that vaccine hesitancy has led to a low inoculation rate in Hong Kong so far, with only around 8 percent of the population vaccinated.
Its president William Chui said the vaccine bubble plan comes at the right time to encourage vaccination.
"If Hong Kong people are willing to take the vaccination, I think the government won't introduce the vaccine bubble. The intake rate is very low in Hong Kong. We have to introduce several incentives for Hong Kong people to consider, to speed up the uptake rate," he said.
Chui rejected suggestions that authorities are forcing people to get jabs, saying the government has learnt from countries like Israel which has already vaccinated over half of its population.
He said Hong Kong authorities should also provide exemptions for people ineligible or unfit for inoculation.
"If 90 percent of a family, or in a group of five, four of them have been vaccinated and only one has not been vaccinated, then maybe we should consider also allowing this one person to enter the restaurant, for example. I think this is more humane and also consider the actual situation of Hong Kong," he said.
The group also urged the government to allow people under 30 to get jabs and to send outreach vaccination teams to large companies, universities and other institutions.
Private clinics should also be allowed to offer BioNTech jabs to patients in addition to the Sinovac vaccine, the group said, and authorities should improve transparency by revealing the total number of vaccine recipients along with those with chronic health conditions.
'Vaccine bubbles needed to encourage vaccination'
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