Distrust hurting jab push: Medical Association head

The head of the Medical Association, Choi Kin, says distrust of the authorities is holding back Hong Kong’s efforts to persuade its citizens to accept Covid-19 vaccinations, as he warned that inoculation is the only hope in the fight against the virus.

Dr Choi said jabs were helping to prevent infections. But he said the world may soon find out that the pandemic is here to stay, unlike the outbreak of Sars in 2003.

“We may soon learn that…[Covid] will stay on worldwide even after global vaccination is achieved and we may have to add annual vaccines to our list of musts in the years to come,” Choi said on RTHK’s Letter to Hong Kong programme on Sunday.

He noted that around 12 percent of locals have taken at least one shot, a percentage lagging far behind the suggested 70 percent vaccination rate required to achieve herd immunity.

Choi said the government had adopted measures to encourage vaccination, such as relaxed dine-in arrangements at restaurants and a proposed “travel bubble” to Singapore.

Yet he said the schemes are complicated and not tempting enough for people to get the jabs.

“Trust of the authority is an issue which dictates whether the citizens will want to get vaccinated or not,” Choi said.

“There have been inadequate convincing statements from [government-appointed expert panels] to convince the public of the importance and safety of the vaccines.”

The doctor said his association supported mass vaccination so that life and business in Hong Kong can return to normal.

But he added that variant strains could still be a threat “if border control is not well kept and surveillance is inadequate”.