Macao has extended its Covid-19 booster vaccination programme to over-18s who have been fully inoculated with Covid-19 inactivated vaccines or mRNA vaccines at least six months ago.
In addition, the government also announced yesterday that those who need to visit a foreign country or Taiwan can now receive their Covid-19 booster jab at least three months after having been fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.
Leong Iek Hou, who heads the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Division of the Health Bureau (SSM) said that the government now suggests that all those aged 18 or over who have received two shots of inactivated vaccines or mRNA vaccines get a third Covid-19 vaccine dose as their booster jabs, a change from previously when those aged between 18 and 59 who had been fully inoculated with mRNA vaccines could only receive their booster jabs if they were potentially subject to a higher Covid-19 risk or have a weak immune system.
Leong also announced that the government has now also shortened the required interval between the second jab of Covid-19 vaccinees who have an urgent need to visit a foreign country or Taiwan and their booster jab. In principle, Leong said, people in Macao can only get their booster shot at least six months after receiving their second dose. Now, Leong said, those who urgently need to visit a foreign country or Taiwan can receive their Covid-19 booster jab at least three months after receiving their second shot.
Leong also said that the SSM is recommending that those who have been inoculated with Covid-19 inactivated vaccines receive an mRNA jab as their booster shot, due to the recommendations made by different health agencies worldwide according to which mRNA booster vaccinations can provide stronger immunity against Covid-19 than inactivated booster vaccinations.
In Macao, those receiving a Covid-19 vaccine booster dose can choose to receive their booster jabs with the same technology as their first two shots or “mix and match” their booster shots, that is opting for a vaccine with a technological approach different from their first two jabs.
According to Leong, the World Health Organization said last month that those who choose an mRNA jab as their booster shot after receiving two shots of inactivated vaccines will develop a higher level of immunity against the novel coronavirus compared to choosing to stick to an inactivated jab as their booster shot.
The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention under the National Health Commission, Leong said, has also recently said that those who have had two shots of inactivated vaccines will develop stronger immunity against Covid-19 if they choose to “mix and match” their booster shots, compared to choosing to stick to an inactivated jab.
Leong also said that according to an announcement by Hong Kong’s Department of Health last month, top virologists there are recommending that people receive an mRNA jab as their booster shot, regardless of having been fully inoculated with inactivated vaccines or mRNA vaccines.
The inactivated Covid-19 vaccine currently available in Hong Kong is China’s Sinovac, while the mRNA vaccine administered there is also Germany’s BioNTech.
Leong also admitted that the Omicron variant is making Covid-19 vaccines less effective, but she added that the latest findings of research studies worldwide have indicated that mRNA booster vaccinations are still very effective against Omicron.
Leong announced that the Macao government will not rule out the possibility of requiring those entering certain venues and facilities to have been inoculated against the novel coronavirus or to present a nucleic acid test certificate confirming a negative Covid-19 result valid for seven days.
Leong reaffirmed that vaccination against Covid-19 can reduce the risk of infection, and more importantly, can reduce the risk of suffering a serious condition or dying from the novel coronavirus disease, in case jabbed people are still infected with Covid-19.
Leong said that if the Macao government would implement a jab-or-test measure for those entering certain venues and facilities and for certain events, it would be implemented first for those that carry a higher Covid-19 risk, such as restaurants and other eateries, cinemas and concert venues.
Leong noted that people need to remove their facemasks while eating, so restaurants and other eateries entail a higher risk of possible Covid-19 spread. Leong also noted that indoor venues and facilities where people normally stay for a longer time also involve a higher Covid-19 risk, such as cinemas and concert venues.
Leong said that the novel coronavirus has been becoming more transmissible, namely due to the ongoing spread of the Omicron variant worldwide, so the local government is studying the possibility of implementing a mandatory jab-or test measure for those entering certain facilities and for certain events in Macao.
Leong urged unjabbed residents to get inoculated against Covid-19 as soon as possible, with the aim of avoiding inconvenience in case the government rolls out a jab-or-test measure.
Leong said that the Macao government will not roll out a jab-or-test measure for those entering certain facilities after the city is hit by new local Covid-19 cases, as it would be too late. However, Leong said that for the time being the local government does not have a timetable as to when such a jab-or-test measure will be launched.