Pharmacists want BioNTech jabs for children 5 and up

A pharmacists’ group called on Tuesday for the government to lower the minimum age for people to receive a BioNTech Covid vaccine to five.

At the moment, children as young as 12 are allowed to have the jab, while government advisers have recommended that the other shot available in Hong Kong, from Sinovac, is suitable for children as young as three.

Speaking on RTHK’s Hong Kong Today programme on Tuesday, the chairman of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists, William Chui, cited a British study as showing that giving younger children one-third of the adult dose is safe and effective, with a booster shot twenty-one days later.

“As you know, the BioNTech vaccine can produce a high level of neutralising antibody,” he told RTHK’s Samantha Butler.

“That’s why our society not only considers the Sinovac vaccine but also the BioNTech vaccine, because we think some of the parents may consider the higher level of neutralising antibody caused by the BioNTech vaccine.”

The government made Sinovac vaccines available for children aged 12 and over from December 2 after reducing the minimum age for BioNTech shots in June. Officials have said the priority is to vaccinate older children before extending the jabs to younger children.

Hong Kong has seen a surge in vaccinations since officials announced plans to extend a “vaccine bubble” system from February, with people only allowed into venues such as restaurants if they’ve had at least one shot.

As of Monday, almost 70 percent of the eligible population was fully vaccinated. Almost 45,000 vaccine doses were delivered on Monday.