People enter a community vaccination center for the COVID-19 vaccination in south China's Hong Kong, Feb. 26, 2021. Hong Kong started the COVID-19 vaccine rollout on Friday for priority groups, including medical workers and the aged, a week after the arrival of the first batch of mainland-made doses. (Xinhua/Wang Shen)
HONG KONG, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong started the COVID-19 vaccine rollout on Friday for priority groups, including medical workers and the aged, a week after the arrival of the first batch of mainland-made doses.
The vaccine was given at five community vaccination centers and 18 general out-patient clinics, where people waited in long queues to get their first shots. As far, all 70,000 booking slots available for the next two weeks have been taken up.
Tung Chee-hwa, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, received the first jab at the vaccination station set at Hong Kong Central Library. After getting vaccinated, Tung gave a thumbs-up and said he felt "very good."
The vaccination will protect the receivers, their families and Hong Kong, he said, urging every Hong Kong resident to get the vaccine at an early date in joint efforts to defeat COVID-19.
The vaccine administered in Hong Kong was produced by Sinovac Biotech, which has been widely used across the world. The first one million doses arrived in Hong Kong on Feb. 19, the earliest vaccine delivered here.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government has altogether procured 22.5 million doses of vaccine from three different producers for its free inoculation program expected to cover the entire population. One million doses of the Fosun Pharma/BioNTech vaccine are expected to be shipped to Hong Kong soon.
"The vaccination process is short and I don't feel uncomfortable," said a resident surnamed Cheung, who was also given the priority as a cross-border truck driver. The man will receive the second shot 28 days later.
Another resident surnamed Lau, in his 70s, came to the Kwun Chung Sports Center to get vaccinated with two family members. He believed the Sinovac vaccine is safe and hoped the vaccination program will help resume cross-border traveling so that he can visit his mainland friends.
"The vaccine supply is sufficient and I hope the public can get the vaccine to protect both themselves and others," Patrick Nip, secretary for the civil service of the HKSAR government said, adding that the online booking system will reopen on March 1 with three more vaccination centers set up.
The government has earmarked over 8.4 billion Hong Kong dollars (1.08 billion U.S. dollars) for the free vaccination of the majority of the population this year. (1 U.S. dollar equals 7.75 Hong Kong dollars) Enditem