The College of Physicians on Monday urged authorities to let the elderly get vaccinated without making a booking in advance, to try to boost the inoculation rate for senior citizens in Hong Kong which it described as "the lowest in the world".
Of the roughly two million Hong Kong people who have received at least one jab so far, only five percent are in the 70-79 age group, while just one percent of those inoculated are 80 years old or above.
The college said the vaccination rate here is far lower than that of countries such as Canada or the UK.
The college's Dr Owen Tsang said the low vaccination rate in Hong Kong is related to a misunderstanding that elderly people who have chronic diseases, like hypertension and diabetes, should not get the jabs.
"I think this is totally wrong... they should be vaccinated because they are the target group, because once they are infected [with Covid-19] their mortality rate will be very high especially when they have chronic illnesses," he said.
Tsang said people aged 80 or above are especially vulnerable, as one in four known to be infected with the coronavirus in Hong Kong later died, when the general mortality rate is only 1.8 percent.
He called on elderly people to get a Covid vaccine as long as their chronic illnesses are under control, adding that they could consult medical advice if in doubt.
The college said tens of millions of BioNTech and Sinovac shots have been given to the elderly around the world, and reports showed the jabs didn't lead to heart disease or strokes.
It added that compared to younger people, the elderly experience milder side effects of the jabs, like fever or pain.
The college's president Philip Li said authorities should step up efforts to get the elderly vaccinated against Covid-19, by for example allowing people aged above 60 to just walk into vaccination centres to get a jab.
He said some elderly may not know how to make an online booking, and making it easier for them to get the shots would help boost the inoculation rate.
Last updated: 2021-06-22 HKT 16:29