At the moment, hundreds of thousands of people around the world are receiving vaccinations against COVID-19. However, there are still many who have not received doses. Governments are working to supply enough vaccines in order to return the world to the previous level of production. However, many roadblocks exist that places must overcome before that can happen, and such difficulties are not always easy to solve. A problem that has arisen in Hong Kong is that many individuals are reluctant to take the vaccinations offered to them.
Distrust in Hong Kong
As of March 2021, a month after the beginning of the distribution of vaccines, only 6.01% of Hong Kong’s population had been vaccinated. However, Hong Kong does not have a shortage of vaccines. Although the country received the batches of doses it ordered, the vaccination centers have run low on personnel, and many people have not been signing up to receive the vaccines. There is distrust between the government and the citizens of Hong Kong, which makes it difficult for many individuals to come to terms with the idea of utilizing government-issued medicine. While there are both Western and Eastern produced vaccines available to the public, many people are wary of receiving them. Media coverage reports of fatalities due to vaccines have deterred many individuals despite government medical consultants claiming the deaths were from causes unrelated to the vaccine.
For a period of time, Hong Kong put the vaccinations on hold due to the discovery of some faulty packaging. There were concerns that someone had tampered with the product, and distributions underwent recall for inspection. After a 12-day suspension, BioNTech determined the vaccine was usable, and the vaccination processes resumed. However, Hong Kong received an additional 300,000 doses on the chance that any vaccines required replacing. There is hope that with the arrival of new supplies, people may be more willing to trust that the vaccines will have no fatal effects.
Due to the public reluctance toward vaccinations in Hong Kong, the government has reached the conclusion that incentives may be necessary. For example, exemptions from travel bans or issued vaccination certificates that could grant entry to special locations may entice more people to obtain vaccinations. With the potential to relax social distancing restrictions, the government hopes to have the number of vaccinations reach at least 70% of the population. Especially for individuals who are not natives of Hong Kong, such as students and those on work visas, higher vaccination rates may allow people to return home once countries loosen travel restrictions.
The government is also pushing to have businesses vaccinate employees in a bid to show that employee health improves with the vaccine. This process has mostly occurred in air flight companies, which will allow aircrew employees to avoid the mandated quarantine whenever they land within the country. The offer would then extend to other citizens as well.
– Seren Dere