The Health Bureau (SSM) has reinstated the administration of Sinopharm’s inactivated vaccine for people aged 60 or above, Tai Wa Hou, coordinator of the Health Bureau’s (SSM) Covid-19 Vaccination Operation, confirmed yesterday at the TDM Macau Forum.
Tai’s announcement came following the statement released on April 1 by the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China (NHC), which clarified that the elderly aged 60 or above are also eligible for receiving the vaccines.
The only prerequisite for Macau’s senior residents to receive Sinopharm vaccines now is to be in a condition of good health, Tai stressed.
Senior residents interested in taking the Sinopharm vaccine are required to fill out a questionnaire. The medical staff will use the survey to assess the participant’s health status and determine whether they are physically fit for vaccination.
Tai said that several more questions are incorporated into the survey for the Sinopharm vaccines than for those relating to BioNTech vaccines.
But he emphasized that senior individuals undergoing acute bouts of serious and chronic illnesses are not recommended to receive the vaccinations.
However, those with diabetes and high blood pressure are also entitled to take the Sinopharm vaccines, provided that they keep the blood pressure and blood sugar levels in check, he clarified.
The inactivated vaccine developed by the Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm Group was originally made available for the city’s elderly until February 24, when the SAR government suspended its registration and use on those aged 60 or above.
Such a moratorium, the SSM officials claimed, was to ensure the vaccination program “runs smoothly,” after seeing some registered seniors fail to meet the two requirements for receiving the inactivated vaccines: firstly, bearing a high risk of exposure to Covid-19, and secondly, experiencing a health condition.
Leong Iek Hou, coordinator at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who also attended the forum yesterday, explained the SSM decided to halt the vaccination of the elderly as there was not sufficient data at the time to verify whether Sinopharm had a high prevention efficiency for them against the coronavirus.
Following the latest advice by the SHC and after evaluating the gains and risks, the SSM decided to restore Sinopharm inoculation for the city’s elderly, Leong added.
The preconditions for elderly residents to be inoculated with Sinopharm vaccines are reduced from two to one.
“They [elderly] no longer need to be [those] with high risks of exposure. The only requirement is to be physically fit,” Tai said.
Vaccination outreach already underway
The Health Bureau (SSM) has already commenced its earlier promised vaccination outreach activities to boost the city’s vaccination rate, Tai Wa Hou, coordinator of the Covid-19 Vaccination Operation, revealed yesterday.
The authorities have contacted around 60 associations in Macau to discuss the inoculation arrangements for their members.
The SSM will also embark on outreach vaccination program at local universities and corporations, and will consider extending the program to high schools and elderly care centers, he said.
The plan for the vaccination outreach program was first mentioned to the public by Tai at a Covid-19 media briefing on March 23.
“[SSM] will allocate locations and time slots for [groups] of people who hail from the same alliances, organizations, departments and so on, to receive their jabs together at the time,” he said earlier
The tactic is intended to extend the vaccination service beyond the city’s current 13 designated centers, to drive up the inoculation rate and help Macau achieve herd immunity as quickly as possible.