China is bringing COVID vaccination to villages as cases rise

By Brenda Goh

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Xu Yafa, a 64-year-old pensioner living in a small village on the outskirts of Shanghai and recovering after receiving her fourth COVID-19 vaccination, was very clear about the reasons why she needs a booster shot needed.

“Because I’m scared!” she told Reuters.

In Zhongmin, Xu was one of a small number of elderly residents on Wednesday who braved the cold to take part in a government campaign to ensure COVID vaccines reach the people who need them most.

China’s health authority pledged a concerted effort late last month to ramp up vaccinations among the over-60s, promising to deploy specialized vehicles and set up temporary clinics in villages and communities to improve coverage, which is lagging among the elderly. , increase.

With China’s zero-COVID regime now dismantled, vaccinating the vulnerable has become even more important as the country faces a wave of infections that has already put a huge strain on its health infrastructure.

Wang Yaqian, a doctor involved in the Zhongmin vaccination program, stressed the importance of going directly to the village itself.

“We started vaccinating last year – the first shot, the second shot, the third shot were all done in the village because there are a lot of old people and it’s hard to get around and our service center is quite far away.” she said.

“It is not easy for these villagers to go up and down the stairs. There is also a demand for this, so we chose to come to the village, which is more convenient.”

With many elderly people concerned that vaccination could exacerbate their underlying health problems, the Chinese health authority also pledged to launch targeted education campaigns to spread the message that vaccines are not only an essential way to protect themselves against COVID, but are also safe.

Zhao Hui, a local Communist Party official, said they personally convinced residents of the importance of vaccination.

“There are indeed some elderly people who are a bit worried, so we invited a GP to come to their door and mobilize them, and depending on their illness or the medicines they are on, let them know if they can be vaccinated. ” she said. “This is all happening at their doorstep.”

Zhao said the village had already seen a small number of positive cases, but there were concerns that people coming home for Chinese New Year in January could put elderly residents at greater risk of infection.

“So everyone hopes they can get boosters and take care of their own health,” she said.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Writing by David Stanway; Editing by Alison Williams)

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