‘Outreach teams may be sent to schools to give shots’

The government said it’s considering sending teams to schools to administer Covid-19 jabs, after authorities lowered the age limit for the BioNTech vaccine to 12 years old.

Speaking on a television interview, education secretary Kevin Yeung said officials are considering different plans to make it convenient for teachers and students to get inoculated.

But he said authorities have to consider various factors, such as the manpower needed, the vast amount of schools in the city and whether the campuses are fit for the complicated arrangements needed for BioNTech jabs.

In addition to outreach teams, the minister said there could also be other options for schools to choose from.

“If schools can make arrangements for a trip to vaccination centres, can we reserve a time slot at the centres for their teachers and students? Or can we arrange coaches to take people to the centres? We can consider all these options,” he said.

Yeung said he hopes teachers will set an example by getting the jabs, while the government will do more to encourage students and parents to do the same.

The more people getting vaccinated, the safer the school environment will be, making it more possible to resume full-day classes on campus, he said.

The minister added that schools with a higher vaccination rate may be subject to fewer social distancing restrictions, should a fifth wave of Covid-19 break out in Hong Kong.

While authorities earlier warned that unvaccinated people may be barred from schools and other venues if Hong Kong is hit by another outbreak, Yeung said some practical issues may arise.

“If a teacher can’t take jabs due to certain reasons and is barred from campus when an outbreak comes, but the pupils are all back at school – this is an operational issue we have to consider,” he said.

The minister said officials will consider the feasibility of introducing regular testing for the unvaccinated.