China to roll out 2nd Covid booster shots for vulnerable groups

Beijing, Dec 14 (EFE).- China’s National Health Commission will roll out second Covid-19 booster shots to the elderly and other vulnerable groups, it said Wednesday, as the country starts to dismantle its long-held zero-tolerance strategy against the virus.

The campaign aims to boost the immunity of four vulnerable groups who have already received one booster: people over 60 years of age, groups at high risk of infection, and people with weak immune systems or severe illnesses.

At least six months must have passed between the first and second boosters.

At the end of November, the government declared that it would accelerate inoculation of the elderly, which is one of the most vulnerable groups and also one of the most reluctant to get vaccinated, but did not explain how it would convince them.

The low proportion of people fully vaccinated over 80 years of age (65.8 percent) is one of the weak spots in the vaccination campaign in the country, where more than 91 percent of the population has received at least two doses.

In recent days, state media has downplayed the risks of the Omicron variant through numerous articles and interviews with experts, an about-turn that accompanies the relaxation of some of the strictest measures of its three-year ‘zero-Covid’ policy.

Since last week, China has allowed those infected with asymptomatic or mild symptoms to isolate at home instead of being transferred to a mandatory quarantine center, and it is no longer necessary to present a negative PCR test to enter most public spaces and establishments, with the exception of hospitals and schools.

The changes came after widespread weariness of the hard restrictions erupted into protests across the country, sparked by the death of 10 people in a locked-down apartment building in Urumqi. Protesters shouted slogans such as “I don’t want a PCR, I want to eat” and “Give me back my freedom.” EFE


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