Govt urged to introduce vaccine bubble at care homes

The government has been advised to ban elderly residents of care homes who haven’t been vaccinated from receiving visitors, taking part in group activities or watching television in common rooms.

Grace Li, an executive committee member of the Elderly Services Association, told an RTHK programme on Thursday that the idea of a so-called “vaccine bubble” arrangement at care homes was floated at a meeting with government officials earlier this week.

She said it was a proposal put forward by some industry representatives at the talks, as the two sides explore ways to boost the low vaccination take-up in care homes.

“It’s suggested that… if the elderly residents are unvaccinated, we would reject visits by their family members,” Li said.

“Residents who have received the coronavirus vaccine can take part in activities, watch television in the common area and interact with others. For unvaccinated residents, we hope they stay in their rooms to protect themselves and others.”

The Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that officials would proactively study suggestions put forward in the meeting and roll out new measures in the short term.

Nip, who’s in charge of the city’s vaccination programme, said close to 80,000 people are currently living at more than 1,000 care homes for the elderly and the disabled.

He said it is unsatisfactory that only 22 percent of them have been vaccinated.