Health chief backs vaccine passport ‘to some degree’

Health Secretary Sophia Chan on Saturday said introducing a vaccine passport is something Hong Kong could do after a certain proportion of the population has been inoculated against Covid-19.

She was commenting on the idea after it was proposed by prominent microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung recently in hopes of boosting the city’s vaccination rate.

The latest government figures show that around 69.3 percent of the population has received one dose of a vaccine since the inoculation programme began in February.

Chan said she agrees with the vaccine passport idea “to some degree”, adding that she believes people need to be jabbed before they are allowed to visit cinemas or gyms.

But the minister said requiring people to show their vaccination records to enter certain premises is not a new idea, as it is already a requirement for those going to select restaurants or karaoke lounges.

Whether the measure is extended to more premises would depend on the public’s acceptance, Chan added.

“If we are to put in place this requirement, I think the most important thing is for the operators of these premises to be cooperative and also for people who haven’t been vaccinated for no reason to get vaccinated,” she said.

Yuen, meanwhile, said the government should set a timetable for vaccinations before Hong Kong reopens its border to minimise the impact of a major virus outbreak.

For example, he said people should receive two doses of a Covid vaccine by March next year, and by September, people should be triple-jabbed.

The government pandemic adviser also told reporters, after appearing on a radio programme, that a vaccine passport could also protect the unvaccinated.

“We know that once we open up, there must be a fifth wave coming. In order to decrease the damage to Hong Kong once we open up, we must have a way to do it, we must prepare for that,” he said.

“I believe that the vaccine passport is the most important measure to improve the rate of vaccination and also to protect those who are unvaccinated from going to public places and acquire the virus.”

Meanwhile, the University of Hong Kong professor said he expects expert committees to approve lowering the minimum age for vaccination to three years old.