Hong Kong receives first Pfizer XBB vaccine batch, elderly and high-risk groups get priority


30th November 2023 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong authorities announced the arrival of the city’s initial batch of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines specifically designed to combat the XBB variant. The initial consignment comprises around 100,000 doses of the new-generation XBB vaccine.

Acknowledging the limited local supply of the XBB vaccine, the Department of Health stated, “The government will orchestrate the vaccination of high-risk groups in stages.” The first batch of the XBB mRNA vaccines is set to be allocated preferentially to care home residents and those aged 65 and above.

Details concerning the rollout and scheduling of these vaccinations are anticipated to be released in early December.

The health authorities reiterated that they have conducted thorough examinations and inspections to verify the vaccine’s adherence to product specifications. They have also ensured the transportation process complies with the necessary cold-chain requirements. The vaccine doses are stored in approved ultra-low temperature freezers to maintain the recommended storage conditions stipulated by Pfizer.

Recent findings from sewage surveillance and analyses of severe and fatal COVID-19 cases show the XBB variant and its descendant lineages continue to dominate in the city, making up over 99% of all characterised specimens.

As of the previous Sunday, more than 80% of Hong Kong’s population has received at least three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, with over 1.1 million residents already having their fourth jab.

Approximately one-fifth of the city’s population aged 60 and above remain unvaccinated. For residents who have remained virus-free, they are eligible for three free vaccine shots. Those who have recovered from the virus are advised to take one less dose than those who haven’t been infected.

The complimentary vaccines are available at specified public and private clinics, along with public hospitals. If residents require additional doses, they can access them through the private market, but these will be at their own expense.

Despite this, priority groups such as those aged 50 and above, individuals with chronic illnesses, people aged between 18 and 49, immunocompromised individuals, expectant mothers, and healthcare workers are eligible for free booster shots within this year.