A vaccination ceremony is expected to take place tomorrow as the first 100,000 doses of the inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine arrived in Macau last Saturday, director of the Health Bureau (SSM) Lei Chin Ion said on the sidelines of the arrival ceremony for the vaccines.
The government is prioritizing medical staff, especially those working in frontline positions, for the jab, aiming to vaccinate them all by Chinese New Year.
After this, frontline border checkpoint staff, police, fire fighters, paramedics, frozen food workers, casino staff, school staff, and people traveling overseas for urgent reasons will follow.
It is internationally agreed that all three of the most widely-used SARS-CoV-2 vaccines require two doses to build sufficient immunity against Covid-19. This means 50,000 recipients at most will receive the 100,000 vaccines.
To prepare for the vaccinations, the SSM launched a registration website last week to allow medical staff working at the SSM, Kiang Wu Hospital, University Hospital, and the Macau Federation of Trade Unions clinics and rehabilitation centers to make their bookings.
Although the registration process is still underway, Lei revealed that half of the SSM’s medical staff have expressed an interest in getting vaccinated. He expects most vaccinations to occur in the two days before Chinese New Year.
From the fourth day of Chinese New Year, all SSM health centers, as well as the Accident and Emergency Room at Conde São Januário Hospital and University Hospital, will provide vaccinations.
Considering the arrangement, journalists were interested to know whether Lei would be included in the first phase of vaccinations. As a doctor himself, Lei confirmed that he would be part of the first cohort of recipients.
He acknowledged that while an official getting the vaccine is a way of building public confidence in the vaccine, he stressed that frontline medical staff are the most vulnerable group and should always be prioritized.
Lei declined to disclose who would receive the first jab in Macau before he was asked if it was confidential. In response, he immediately said, “Okay, I’ll take the first jab.”
The city will follow best practice and require all recipients to remain onsite for half an hour before leaving in case any complications arise.
The director stressed that, after the vaccine rollout, the SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid test and Health Code requirements will maintain in place, because lifting them is not a common practice yet.
By the time the vaccination program commences, the government’s insurance policies will also be ready. The government has pledged to insure all local and non-resident workers in case of any medical complications after receiving the vaccine. Details will be announced at the weekly press briefing today.
Macau has ordered three types of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. Besides the vaccine that arrived last week, there is also the Pfizer-BioNTech and the AstraZeneca, which are expected to arrive next month and in June respectively.
The SSM has held two separate sessions to brief medical staff about how to administer the vaccine. About 150 staff members attended.
Medical staff at the sessions were introduced to technical guidelines and vaccination procedures, and the reporting mechanism for adverse effects.
Attendees also raised questions regarding points of caution in the vaccination guidelines and evaluation of efficacy.
Similar sessions will be held for staff serving at private medical facilities at later dates.