In a two-step vaccination drive, the COVID-19 vaccines will be given first to priority groups, including those engaged in handling imported cold-chain products and people working in exposed sectors such as port inspection and quarantine, ship pilotage, aviation, fresh market, public transport, medical treatment, and disease control, Cui Gang, an official with NHC's disease control department, said at a press conference.The vaccination program will also cover those who plan to work or study in countries and regions with medium or high risks of exposure to the virus, Cui added.
Next, with COVID-19 vaccines officially approved to enter the market or the yield of vaccines improving steadily, China will put more vaccines into use, inoculating the eligible population as widely as possible, Cui said.
More than one million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed for emergency inoculation use since July.The emergency vaccinations were given to people with high exposure risks on the premise of voluntary, informed consent.
After strict monitoring and observation, no serious adverse reactions took place.
If the vaccine's (performance) statistics reach the required standards, the medical products administration will approve it for the market, and then our vaccine will be produced and rolled out more quickly, because we have already prepared for mass production.
It is too early to conclude whether the Chinese vaccines can offer lifelong immunity or protection for five to 10 years like many other viral vaccines.
"However, there is little doubt that Chinese COVID-19 vaccines can offer protection for at least six months based on existing evidence," he said, adding that this standard is on par with the requirement by the World Health Organization.
Optimistically speaking, it would be unlikely for the public to need to routinely take COVID-19 vaccines once every six months to one year, like flu shots, because the flu virus mutates very quickly and there may be a different strain every year causing an outbreak.
"Although we believe the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, we advise the public to maintain personal hygiene and protection, including wearing masks, washing hands and practicing social distancing," he said.
This is because no vaccine can guarantee 100 percent protection, and people should not lower their guard, especially not before herd immunity has been established, he added.
Usually, the vaccination units are located in health service centers, township clinicss or general hospitals, local governments have been requested to publish information on vaccination services in a timely manner.
Others who have not been vaccinated for the time being need not worry. Wearing masks in public places, practicing social distance and washing hands are protective measures that have been proven to be very effective.