‘I don’t trust it:’ Vaccine hesitancy lingers even as China Covid cases surge

SHENZHEN: Candice, the headhunter, knows that the Covid-19 infection is engulfing Beijing and much of China will soon hit her hometown in the city of Shenzhen, but she would rather face it it doesn’t have a booster vaccine, says she’s more afraid of potential side effects than the virus.
The 28-year-old took two doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac last year, hoping it would make commuting easier, but has since grown more skeptical, citing stories from friends about it. health effects as well as similar health warnings on social media.
“I don’t believe it,” she said, on condition of using only her first name. Candice said she declined to participate in recent vaccinations organized by the local community.
Candice is part of a group that demonstrates how vaccine hesitancy Scholars say it’s still deep in mainland China, which is giving Beijing more of a headache as it tries to convince more people to get vaccinated against the risk of a spike in infections after the lifting of restrictions. strict measures against Covid-19.
Officially, China’s vaccination rate is above 90%, but booster rates for adults fall to 57.9% and 42.3% for people 80 and older, according to government data , leading to warnings that the country could see more than 1.5 million deaths after the lifting of restrictive measures such as blockades and mass testing that have stopped most of the virus from spreading.
In September, an article by a publication of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledged the poor coverage of older adults and the lack of local doctors in vaccination rounds. application, poor medical knowledge and lack of insurance coverage for potential parties. all reduce enthusiasm.
Stephanie Jean-Tsang, assistant professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, who specializes in health messaging, said: “This is a very special case in China because people feel very safe in a single environment. long time.
“People need to realize the risks and benefits of vaccines – Hong Kongers and the elderly need time to realize this too.”
Authorities have not mandated vaccinations amid signs the public would oppose any such move. Last week, China said it would start a second booster shot – or a fourth dose – for high-risk groups and people over 60.
Vaccines developed overseas are not available in mainland China to the public, which has to rely on Sinopharm’s inactivated injections, Sinovac’s Coronavac and other domestically developed options for deployment. vaccines and the medical community have found to be safe. It also hasn’t introduced its own version of the mRNA vaccine yet.
Kelly Lei, a doctor in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, said that although the Chinese medical community in general has no doubts about the safety of the Chinese vaccine, there are still many questions about the effectiveness of the vaccine. their results compared with foreign-made mRNA-like vaccines.
In late November, the hashtag ‘fake Sinovac vaccine’ grew to 5 million views on the Twitter-like Weibo platform, with many posts discussing the lumps and hair loss attributed to the vaccine. caused by domestic production.
“At least half of the doctors and educated people want to get the mRNA and refuse to get it from China,” says Lei.
“After a while, people didn’t see hope and were forced to take it from China, so they had to accept it. A doctor told me, it’s useless to talk, it’s a waste of money.”
Lei said many of her friends are looking to visit the neighboring Chinese territory of Macau, where mainlanders can receive the mRNA vaccine.
Visitors to Macau said demand had increased in recent weeks as the online vaccination booking platform showed no reservations until January 21.
But after lifting some of the world’s strictest anti-Covid restrictions last week, China is now experiencing a wave of infections across the country, leaving some unable to travel to Macau or abroad to visit. choose to vaccinate China out of desperation.
“In Guangzhou…things started to get wild. At least they wanted something to protect,” Lei said.


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