Children as young as six months old in Hong Kong can soon get a Covid-19 jab after the city’s health minister approved the lowering of the minimum age for receiving the Sinovac vaccine from three years to six months old.
The government made the announcement in a statement on Tuesday, after experts made the recommendation a day earlier.
They noted that, based on related clinical trials and studies of vaccination for local adolescents, three doses of the Sinovac vaccine (each dose being the same dosage as that for older children and adults) can be used for children aged six months to under three years, following the same schedule of vaccination for older children.
The government already has the relevant vaccines in stock and the vaccination arrangements will be announced soon, the statement reads.
For the BioNTech vaccine, experts earlier advised a three-dose series (each dose being one-tenth of that for an adult) to be administered to children aged six months to under five years.
The government is negotiating with the relevant drug manufacturer on the procurement of the designated pediatric formulation, the statement adds.
A government spokesman noted that according to research conducted by the University of Hong Kong on children aged below 11 who have needed to be hospitalized after Covid-19 infection, the risks of admittance to a pediatric intensive care unit and death are 1.8 percent and 0.2 percent respectively.
However, the risk of having neurological complications, including encephalitis, is as high as 15 per cent, which is twice that for seasonal influenza, he added.
“Recently, several cases involving young children suffering from severe illness or even death after Covid-19 infection were recorded. The situation is of grave concern,” the spokesman said.
“The government attaches great importance to the vaccination for young children and will strive to provide a wide range of vaccination channels for them to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, thus having early protection in the face of the threat posed by the highly transmissible mutant virus strains,” he added.