70% of 80,000 residents in the elderly homes and homes for the disabled have not been vaccinated, new Assess and Vaccinate Programme effective

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27th January 2022 – (Hong Kong) Chief Executive Carrie Lam said today that the elderly people are particularly vulnerable. The reason why vaccination makes good sense, especially with Omicron, is that Omicron is highly transmissible. However, a lot of literature and experience elsewhere in Hong Kong proved that for somebody who is vaccinated, even if he or she gets infected, the illness will be very mild. That’s why up till now, with over 600 confirmed cases in HA (Hospital Authority) hospitals, none are serious or critical. Every one of the 600-plus cases is stable. That’s because a lot of them have been vaccinated. Lam appeals that elderly people or their family members should encourage, accompany and bring their elderly, parents and grandparents to get vaccinated.

At the moment, in residential care homes, the vaccination rate is low, even with the government’s new scheme called the Assess and Vaccinate Programme in which the visiting medical officers (VMOs) are sent to do the assessment and then vaccinate if the elderly agrees. The total rate is still 30 per cent. So 70 per cent of the 80,000 residents in the elderly homes and homes for the disabled have not been vaccinated. If a couple of these are infected, the consequences are very serious. So, we will be expanding this Assess and Vaccinate Programme to all the residential homes in time to come.

If the elderly is able to make up his mind – he still has a clear mind to say yes or no – then we will ask the elderly after a medical officer has seen him, or her, and tell the elderly lady, “You are fit. You are fit to take the vaccine. No worry.” And if she nods her head and wants to get vaccinated, then we will vaccinate. The officers won’t consult family members or ask them for permission and so on. However if the elderly person does not have a clear mind, for example, they are senile, then the family member or the guardian will be given an option whether he or she wants this elderly person to be vaccinated.

The Assess and Vaccinate Programme has produced very good results. As of 23rd January, 880 elderly people in homes have been vaccinated, whereas half a year ago, for another seven-day week, only 240 were vaccinated.

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