Lawmakers rail against unvaccinated medical workers

Lawmakers on Friday complained to Health Secretary Sophia Chan about the low inoculation rate among medical workers, saying their reluctance to get vaccinated was “enraging” and describing the need for them to undergo regular tests instead as a waste of public money.

Health officials had told the legislators that more than 60 percent of doctors working in public hospitals had been vaccinated against Covid-19, but the total vaccination rate among medical workers was 35 percent.

The DAB’s Elizabeth Quat said she was worried that the low vaccination rate among health workers had contributed to the general public’s reluctance to get the shots.

She said it was ironic that these people were administering vaccines when they hadn’t got the jabs themselves.

“It is ironic you’re asking people to do their civic duty and the Hospital Authority (HA) staff are not doing that themselves,” she said. “The government is saying that vaccination is beneficial for Hong Kong as a whole, but the HA staff are not doing that.”

“This is enraging.”

Health Secretary Sophia Chan responded that authorities were liaising with the HA to see what can be done to boost the vaccination rate among staff.

At the moment, frontline staff who have not been vaccinated are required to take a coronavirus test each week.

But another DAB lawmaker, Leung Che-cheung, said this was a waste of public money when vaccines are readily available.

“For vaccination it is one-off [but] for testing it is every week, so with the test it is safer, but it is a waste of the government’s money,” Leung said. “If their health condition allows it, why don’t they want to get vaccinated?”

“We should ask all the medical staff to get vaccinated, unless they have health issues.”

The health minister also told lawmakers that HK$2.3 billion is needed to extend the operation of community testing centres into September.

She said people who can’t be vaccinated for health reasons and target groups like construction site workers will still be able to get free tests before the end of this month.

Also on Friday, Hong Kong reported no new Covid-19 infections for the first time since May 30. Health officials said there were fewer than five preliminary positive cases.