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Vaccinations remain critical in protecting China's elderly population

By Zhang Zhihao | | Updated: 2022-11-05 17:18
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Elderly people wait to be vaccinated for seasonal influenza at a clinic in Huzhou, Zhejiang province, in September. NI LIFANG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Vaccinations remain critical in protecting the elderly from becoming seriously ill by COVID-19, Wang Guiqiang, head of the infectious disease department at Peking University First Hospital, said in a news briefing on Saturday.

Hu Xiang, an official from the National Administration of Disease Prevention and Control, said that as of Friday, more than 239.28 million people aged 60 and above have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, accounting for 90.6 percent of China's total elderly population.

About 228 million of elderly people have finished their inoculation course, and more than 180.73 million have received a booster, Hu said. However, the vaccine coverage and booster rate for people aged 80 and above still needs improvement, even though this demographic is the most at risk of becoming severely ill.

A COVID-19 infection can pose a serious threat to elderly people with underlying health conditions, Wang said, adding scientific evidence from home and abroad have proven that vaccinations can significantly lower the risk of becoming severely ill which can result in death for this vulnerable demographic.

While China's general vaccination rate is very high, this figure is below expectation for the elderly, especially those aged 80 and above, so it is imperative for these people to be vaccinated, Wang said.

"We know that it is possible for people who were previously infected to be re-infected by new strains of COVID-19," he said. As a result, it is still important to wear masks, maintain personal hygiene and uphold social distancing.

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