The first batch of mainland-manufactured COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Hong Kong on Friday afternoon, which, as the first vaccines available here, will enable the financial hub to start inoculating its residents next week.
The flight from Beijing carrying 1 million doses of the inactivated vaccine of Sinovac Biotech landed at the Hong Kong International Airport at about 5:30 p.m. local time.
The vaccines bring hope of controlling and ending the epidemic as early as possible, Patrick Nip, secretary for the civil service of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, said when receiving the vaccines at the airport.
The HKSAR government procured 7.5 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine in total and approved the vaccine for emergency use on Thursday.
Starting Feb. 26, priority groups, including medical workers, those aged 60 and above, and cross-border truck drivers, will be given the first shots free of charge in the first phase of Hong Kong's mass vaccination drive.
"It is indeed a very important milestone for all the COVID-19 prevention and control work that we have been doing," Secretary for Food and Health of the HKSAR government Sophia Chan said.
Chan called on the public to get vaccinated in a bid to bring the Hong Kong society back on track.
HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on social media Thursday that she will also receive Sinovac jabs.
Nip said that COVID-19 vaccines are in an acute shortages globally and expressed gratitude to the central government for the fast and timely vaccine delivery to Hong Kong.
The timely vaccine delivery has demonstrated central government caring about Hong Kong compatriots as well as the support from related mainland authorities and vaccine producers to Hong Kong's anti-coronavirus fight, Qiu Hong, deputy head of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, said.