Government lowers applicable age of Vaccine Pass to 5 and adjusts vaccination requirements applicable to persons aged 12 or above
***************************************************************

     The epidemic has reached a dire situation recently. In a bid to enhance protection for children and boost further the vaccination rate of the third dose, the Government announced today (September 8) updated Vaccine Pass arrangements. The specific adjustments include: (1) lowering the applicable age of the Vaccine Pass to cover children aged 5 to 11; and (2) adjusting the vaccination requirements applicable to persons aged 12 or above under the Vaccine Pass.

Extend the applicable age of Vaccine Pass to cover children aged 5 to 11
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The Vaccine Pass arrangements applicable to children aged 5 to 11 will be implemented in two stages starting from September 30:

(1) Starting from September 30, children aged 5 to 11 are required to have received at least the first dose within three months to comply with the vaccination requirements under the Vaccine Pass for entering specified premises (Note). If they received their first dose three months ago or earlier, they are required to receive the second dose in order to continue to be eligible for using the Vaccine Pass.

(2) Starting from November 30, the vaccination requirement for all children aged 5 to 11 under the Vaccine Pass will be to have received the second dose.
 
     Under the new arrangements for children aged 5 to 11 who have recovered from COVID-19, their vaccination requirements will follow that currently applicable to recovered persons aged 12 or above. In other words, children who had not received any COVID-19 vaccine before infection are required to receive the first dose six months after recovery. As for children who had received the second dose before infection, or are within six months after recovery, there is no additional vaccination requirement for them under the Vaccine Pass. For children who had recovered for more than six months and at the same time had received the first dose six months ago or earlier, they are required to receive the second dose in order to continue using the Vaccine Pass. However, the second dose requirement is not applicable to recovered persons aged 5 to 17 who have received one dose of Comirnaty (BioNTech) vaccine.

Adjusting the vaccination requirements applicable to persons aged 12 or above under the Vaccine Pass
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The Government will also adjust the vaccination requirements applicable to persons aged 12 or above under the Vaccine Pass in two stages:

(1) Starting from September 30, the grace period for persons aged 12 or above to receive the third dose after the second dose will be shortened from the original six months to five months. For those who had received the second dose within five months, their Vaccine Pass is still valid, but they must receive the third dose within five months after receiving the second dose (instead of the original six months) in order to continue using the Vaccine Pass afterwards.

(2) Starting from November 30, persons aged 12 or above are required to have received the third dose so as to meet the vaccination requirements under the Vaccine Pass.

     The aforementioned adjustments do not affect the vaccination requirements applicable to recovered persons aged 12 or above under the Vaccine Pass, i.e. the relevant vaccination requirements currently in place will remain unchanged.

Implementation arrangements of the Vaccine Pass for children aged 5 to 11
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     Considering that children may not possess a smart mobile phone for displaying their Vaccine Pass QR code, children or their family members may bring along and present a paper record printed with the QR code or present a photo of the QR code saved in a mobile phone for the purpose of fulfilling the Vaccine Pass requirement. Such arrangements are the same as existing ones to allow persons facing similar situations, e.g. the elderly, to present the QR code with a paper record or a photo.

     Parents may also add their children as "My Family Member" in the eHealth mobile application so that they can retrieve and present their own Vaccine Pass as well as that of their children at the same time. Parents may visit the relevant webpage to learn more. In addition, a new function will be added to the "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile application later to allow parents to save their own Vaccine Pass and that of their children concurrently, in order to facilitate entry by parents and their children to specified premises under the Vaccine Pass.

     A Government spokesman said, "During the fifth wave of the epidemic, quite a number of severe cases involving children who required intensive care were recorded. Among them, six children aged 3 to 11 passed away after infection, all of whom were unvaccinated or had received only one dose of vaccine.

     ‚Äč"At present, the vaccination rate of the second dose for children aged 5 to 11 is 70 per cent. With the commencement of the new school year and the worsening epidemic situation, and in view of the risk of deaths and severe cases of children once they are infected, we have the imminent need to further drive up the vaccination rate of children. The Government has all along been facilitating vaccination for children through multiple channels, including Community Vaccination Centres, private clinics, Student Health Service Centres and more. Parents may make bookings for their children to get vaccinated via the online booking system of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme. Children Community Vaccination Centres providing the Comirnaty (BioNTech) vaccine will also increase their daily vaccination capacity to cope with the expected growing demand. On the other hand, we will continue to work with the Education Bureau to arrange school outreach vaccination service.

     "Persons who have received three doses of vaccine account for a significantly lower proportion among reported cases, and an extremely low proportion among the hospitalised critical/serious and deceased cases. This demonstrates that having received three doses of vaccine can effectively help prevent infection, serious illness and fatality from COVID-19. The latest research by the University of Hong Kong also indicated that receiving three doses of vaccine, be they the Comirnaty (BioNTech) or the CoronaVac (Sinovac), is highly effective in preventing severe cases and deaths with an efficacy of over 90 per cent. The implementation of the Vaccine Pass aims to boost the vaccination rate, strengthen the immunity barrier against the epidemic and allow Hong Kong people to continue to resume normal life in an orderly manner. We strongly appeal to parents for arranging COVID-19 vaccination for their children without delay so that the children can get protection early through vaccination. Members of the public who are eligible for the third dose should also get vaccinated as soon as possible."

Note: Specified premises of the Vaccine Pass

(i) Premises subject to active checking of the Vaccine Pass:
Catering business premises (including bars or pubs), amusement game centres, bathhouses, fitness centres, places of amusement, places of public entertainment, party rooms, beauty parlours and massage establishments, club houses, clubs or nightclubs, karaoke establishments, mahjong-tin kau premises, sports premises, swimming pools, cruise ships, event premises, barber shops or hair salons and religious premises.

(ii) Premises subject to passive checking of the Vaccine Pass:
Shopping malls, department stores, markets and supermarkets.

Ends/Thursday, September 8, 2022
Issued at HKT 16:33

NNNN