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One of the priorities of China's ongoing efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic is to reach a high rate of overall vaccination and immunization coverage for people aged 60 years and above.
Governments at all levels in China are taking diversified measures to speed up the vaccination process of the elderly, given the rapid spread of the Omicron variant and the threats it poses to the health of this highly vulnerable group.
Efforts in this regard include attempts to alleviate the possible reluctance of older people towards vaccination, educate them about its effectiveness, and assist people with mobility impairments in getting vaccinated.
According to the National Health Commission (NHC), more than 90 percent of China's population is fully vaccinated; however, the vaccination rate in the elderly population is lower than the average rate in other age groups.
The recent resurgence of COVID-19 in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) provides evidence of the potential risks to the elderly when a severe outbreak occurs. About 95 percent of deaths during the fifth wave of the pandemic in this region were among people aged 60 years and older.
A senior citizen receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile COVID-19 vaccination site in Beijing. Facing the rampant spread of the Omicron variant, governments at all levels in China are adopting multi-faceted measures to accelerate vaccination among the elderly. pic.twitter.com/Z4jPR81Stc
Since the end of March, the Xingang community in Guangzhou has been conducting a campaign to speed up vaccination among the elderly. In nine days, 1 200 older adults received the first dose of the vaccine.
Yang Zhihua, an official from the Xingang community, said a convenient vaccination site had been proven to be a key factor for the aged to get vaccinated. Thus, efforts are being made to comfort them, Yang said. In this regard, Luo Sui, a Party official in Xingang, said the community supplied free physical examinations, transportation services and gifts encouraging the vaccination of the elderly.
In Beijing's Haidian district, volunteers assist older adults with the vaccination process, while in Zhejiang province, vans operating as mobile vaccination centers go to distant villages to vaccinate the elderly.