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Government extends outreach vaccination service special programme for residential care homes
     To further boost the COVID-19 vaccination rate of residents of residential care homes (RCHs) for the elderly and persons with disabilities so as to strengthen the protection for them, the Government announced today (September 1) the extension of the outreach vaccination service special programme for RCHs till the end of September. Medical teams are invited to continue their visits to respective RCHs at least once a week and provide outreach vaccination service to the residents with a target of not missing any residents who are ready for vaccination and getting them vaccinated as soon as possible. Under the special programme, the Government will provide a special allowance for the medical teams to cover the additional manpower and transportation costs arising from the extension of the programme.

     Since the commencement of the special programme on July 25, the third dose vaccination rate of RCHs has increased from below 40 per cent to over 60 per cent. The special programme has achieved a remarkable result with 85 per cent of RCH residents fulfilling the requirement under the third stage of the Vaccine Pass after recovered residents who received two doses of vaccine are also taken into account, i.e. an effective vaccination rate equivalent to that of having received the third dose. Upon the extension of the special programme, the third dose vaccination rate may reach 70 per cent at minimum by the end of September. The effective vaccination rate equivalent to that of having received the third dose may exceed 90 per cent after recovered residents who received two doses of vaccine are included, thus offering better protection to the residents and building a protective barrier for RCHs.

     A Government spokesman said, "Despite the recent dire epidemic situation and the rising caseload, our measures to drive up the vaccination rate of RCHs at full speed to strengthen protection for residents is starting to pay off. Infected RCH residents remain a relatively small proportion in the overall hospitalisation cases. This indicates that our current anti-epidemic measures being implemented in RCHs, including the provision of COVID-19 vaccination for residents, can effectively protect the residents."

     The spokesman pointed out, "Receiving COVID-19 vaccination is safe and highly effective in lowering the risks of severe cases and deaths for RCH residents in case of infection. With the recent significant increase in the vaccination rate of RCHs, the number of severe cases and deaths of RCH residents has dropped drastically from that recorded at the start of the fifth wave of the epidemic amid the recent rebound of the epidemic situation. According to the provisional figures of the Hospital Authority (HA), among the positive cases recorded from February to April this year, there are 1 422 severe cases and 5 028 deaths involving residents of RCHs for the elderly (41 per cent and 56 per cent of the overall severe cases and deaths respectively during the same period). From June 1 to August 30, 270 severe cases (25 per cent) and 45 deaths (16 per cent) concerning residents of RCHs for the elderly were recorded among the positive cases."

     Nevertheless, confirmed cases involving RCH residents and/or staff are still being reported from time to time. The Government calls on all sectors to stay alert and the RCH sector for their co-operation in preventing any outbreak in RCHs. All RCH staff, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated, were required earlier to undergo polymerase chain reaction-based nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 (PCR tests) once every seven days. In the light of the recent repeated confirmed cases involving RCH residents and/or staff, the Government required all RCH staff to undergo a PCR test once every two days starting from tomorrow (September 2) with a view to strengthening the immunity barrier of RCHs. Meanwhile, all RCH staff are still required to perform daily rapid antigen tests on their own and obtain a negative result before attending their duty at RCHs with an aim to keep on strengthening the protection for RCHs and preventing any outbreak in RCHs.

     Apart from RCH residents, the vaccination rate of the elderly tends to be lower when compared to other age groups and needs to be further driven up. The Government will continue to provide multiple channels to facilitate vaccination by the elderly, including Community Vaccination Centres, private clinics participating in the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, designated general out-patient clinics and Hospital COVID-19 Vaccination Stations of the HA, community vaccination activities in various districts, and the Home Vaccination Service. Separately, the Government also implemented the Vaccine Pass arrangement in designated healthcare premises under the Health Bureau, the Department of Health and the HA, apart from the applicable premises under the statutory Vaccine Pass and those implementing the arrangement through administrative measures such as indoor venues managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (including libraries), in a bid to strengthen the protection for the elderly who receive services at these facilities. Senior citizens without vaccination or yet to complete three doses of vaccine are more vulnerable to severe cases and death in case of COVID-19 infection. The Government strongly appeals to senior citizens who have not received three doses of vaccine to get vaccinated with no delay for early protection.
Ends/Thursday, September 1, 2022
Issued at HKT 17:35
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