Covid-19: School activities could be affected by extension of Hong Kong’s vaccination pass to 5-year-olds


Children as young as five are required to use Hong Kong’s Covid-19 vaccine pass from Friday, with some schools and child rights groups expressing concern over the impact this could have on their upbringing and psychological development.

The extension of the Vaccine Pass program to young residents was announced earlier this month, requiring children to receive at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to enter premises such as restaurants, libraries and sports facilities.

Civil Service Secretary Ingrid Yeung visited Hong Kong Children’s Hospital on Aug. 15 to inspect the first day of operation of the vaccination center simultaneously providing vaccination services with Sinovac and BioNTech vaccines. Photo: GovHK.

Due to the new policy, some schools had to make adjustments to extracurricular activities because some students were not vaccinated.

Polly Chan, vice-president of the Hong Kong Aided Primary School Heads Association, told a commercial radio program on Friday that her school had postponed large-scale events, such as athletics competitions and a swimming gala, to the second half, hoping the requirement would have eased by then.

“We have a school trip in December and we have already booked a campsite but maybe not all the students can go. We need to separate the students – some may go camping while others may need to be taken to unregulated places [by the Vaccine Pass]like public spaces and parks,” Chan said.

Photo: GovHK.

She added that schools need to find creative workarounds, such as inviting external parties to come to campus for activities or discussions rather than taking students there, and using virtual reality and augmented reality to virtual tours.

A small portion of parents insisted on not having their children vaccinated, the school principal said. She said she respects their choice and can only remind them of the limited activities their children can participate in.

Right to education

Hong Kong’s Committee on the Rights of the Child, meanwhile, has urged the government to compromise in a bid to balance epidemic control needs with children’s right to education and development. .

Photo: GovHK.

“We believe that if the government can [meet the parents] halfway – maybe you don’t ban children from certain locals if they are not fully vaccinated and instead require a rapid antigen test like when they go to school,” said Wong Wai- yuk, the group’s executive secretary, on the same commercial radio show. . “In this way, they can have the same treatment as their peers and achieve the original intention of education”,

Wong urged authorities to take a more humane approach to introducing policies.

“A good policy”

Pediatrics expert Mike Kwan, who also sits on the Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases, said the Vaccine Pass itself was “good policy”.

Speaking on RTHK on Friday, Kwan said the program was not intended to “force a certain group of people to get vaccinated”, but rather acted as an encouragement. He said it would be good if children could return to places such as public libraries once they were bitten.

Currently, the first-dose vaccination rate in Hong Kong stands at 94%, while 91% of the population has received two doses.

Vaccination exemptions

As part of the Vaccine Pass, unvaccinated people must present proof of recovery from Covid-19 or an exemption certificate to enter certain premises.

Photo: GovHK.

Sources Cited, Sing Tao reported Friday that about 200 to 300 of the 850 civil servants holding a medical certificate of exemption had obtained it from the seven doctors accused of having issued false certificates. The government has not ruled out handing the matter over to the police for criminal investigation, the outlet added.

The newspaper also quoted officials as saying those who obtained the document from the doctors in question were asked to provide new proof of exemption from another doctor or else they would be barred from the office and fired for “disciplinary matters”.

HKFP has contacted the Civil Service Bureau for comment.

Support HKFP | Code of Ethics | Error / typo? | Contact us | Newsletter | Transparency & Annual Report


Source link