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China races to vaccinate elderly

26 Dec 2022 - 16:32

Chinese authorities are going door to door and paying people older than 60 to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_Monitoring, “When people hear about such incidents, they may not be willing to take the vaccines,” said Li, who had been vaccinated before he caught COVID-19. A few days after his 10-day bout with the virus, Li is nursing a sore throat and cough. He said it was like a “normal cold” with a mild fever.

China has joined other countries in treating cases instead of trying to stamp out virus transmission by dropping or easing rules on testing, quarantines and movement as it tries to reverse an economic slump. But the shift has flooded hospitals with feverish, wheezing patients, AP reported on Sunday. 
The National Health Commission announced a campaign Nov. 29 to raise the vaccination rate among older Chinese, which health experts say is crucial to avoiding a health care crisis. It’s also the biggest hurdle before the ruling Communist Party can lift the last of the world’s most stringent antivirus restrictions.
China kept case numbers low for two years with a “zero-COVID” strategy that isolated cities and confined millions of people to their homes. Now, as it backs off that approach, it is facing the widespread outbreaks that other countries have already gone through.
The health commission has recorded only six COVID-19 fatalities this month, bringing the country’s official toll to 5,241. That is despite multiple reports by families of relatives dying.
China only counts deaths from pneumonia or respiratory failure in its official COVID-19 toll, a health official said last week. That unusually narrow definition excludes many deaths other countries would attribute to COVID-19.
Neighborhood committees that form the lowest level of government have been ordered to find everyone 65 and older and keep track of their health. They are doing what state media call the “ideological work” of lobbying residents to persuade elderly relatives to get vaccinated.
Li said a 55-year-old friend suffered fevers and blood clots after being vaccinated. He said they can’t be sure the shot was to blame, but his friend is reluctant to get another.
“It’s also said the virus keeps mutating,” Li said. “How do we know if the vaccines we take are useful?”
Some are reluctant because they have diabetes, heart problems and other health complications, despite warnings from experts that it is even more urgent for them to be vaccinated because the risks of COVID-19 are more serious than potential vaccine side effects in almost everyone.
Older people also felt little urgency because low case numbers before the latest surge meant few faced risk of infection. That earlier lack of infections, however, left China with few people who have developed antibodies against the virus.
More than 90% of people in China have been vaccinated but only about two-thirds of those over 80, according to the National Health Commission. According to its 2020 census, China has 191 million people aged 65 and over — a group that, on its own, would be the eighth most populous country, ahead of Bangladesh.
Health officials declined requests by reporters to visit vaccination centers. Two who briefly entered centers were ordered to leave when employees found out who they were.

Story Code: 262933

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