China to start vaccinating high-risk groups against COVID-19
China will start vaccinating high-risk groups against COVID-19 over the winter, Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the National Health Commission said Saturday.
Those who work in the cold-chain industry, healthcare, customs, wholesale and seafood markets, and public transportation, are among the groups to receive the vaccines first, health officials said at a press briefing in Beijing.
He said that as the temperature falls in winter and spring, China faces greater pressure and challenges in preventing the spread of the virus. Under such circumstances, vaccinating key population groups is of great significance to prevention efforts.
This is the first step in the country's COVID-19 vaccination plan, he said. After the COVID-19 vaccines are approved to enter the market, especially when production capacity increases, vaccination programs for senior citizens, people with underlying diseases, and the general public will be carried out in an orderly manner.
Emergency use of Chinese COVID-19 vaccines shows no severe adverse effects
In July, China approved the emergency use of three Chinese COVID-19 vaccines on specific high-infection risk groups, such as medical workers, border inspectors, and those who had to travel abroad. Two candidate vaccines from Sinopharm and another from Sinovac Biotech are part of the emergency program.
Since then, over 1 million doses have been administered to high-risk groups, with no serious adverse effects reported so far, said Zheng Zhongwei, the NHC official heading China's COVID-19 vaccine development team, during the press briefing.
Among those who were vaccinated, more than 60,000 have traveled to high-risk areas abroad, and no serious infection was reported, he added.
Phase-III trials of the three vaccine candidates have been conducted in other countries, during which a total of 75,000 participants have taken the shots and reported no severe side effects, he said.
He noted that based on these facts, China decided to start the two-step inoculation plan over the winter.