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December 6, 2022

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Should elderly people get COVID-19 vaccines?

With cities and regions across China easing COVID-19 restrictions, including on polymerase chain reaction testing, the focus is shifting to vaccines, especially for the elderly.
Here are 10 frequently asked questions about COVID vaccination for the elderly.

1. Given the elderly people’s limited outside contacts, is it necessary for them to be vaccinated for COVID-19 at all?

Even though the elderly don’t go out much compared with young people, they might still be infected through their interaction with the younger members of their family, or those they have come into contact with. On the other hand, once infected, the elderly face far higher risks, including death.

Although globally the ratio of COVID-19 cases becoming serious or deadly varies, there is something in common: The elderly without prior vaccinations and those with underlying health conditions face higher risks of turning into serious cases or even death.

2. Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?

All COVID-19 vaccines being given in Shanghai are certified for use, or have been approved for emergency use. The safety and validity of the vaccines have all been established through large-scale clinical trials in China, conducted strictly under relevant regulations.

3. What are the risks for the elderly if they don’t have booster shots?

Research has established the significant efficacy of the vaccines in preventing COVID-19 in general, and in preventing serious cases or deaths in particular. Since the vaccine protection can wane over time, booster shots are being pushed at home and abroad. Studies show that full-course vaccination will reduce the risk of serious cases by 80 percent, while booster doses will slash the risk by 90 percent. Thus booster shots are recommended for the elderly. The sooner, the better.

4. What vaccines are fit for the elderly?

All the COVID-19 vaccines cleared for use in China, whether inactivated, adenovirus vector, or recombinant protein types, can be given to the elderly; their safety and validity have all been established through clinical trials and large-scale actual use.

Thus all who are eligible for vaccination, once inoculated, will face significantly lower risks of becoming serious cases, or death.

5. How about booster shots for the elderly?

All those aged 60 and above who have received full-course vaccinations, given a minimum interval of three months, can get booster shots. Those eligible can either choose booster vaccines that are same as their prior doses, or those of different types.

6. Are elderly people with chronic diseases eligible for COVID-19 vaccines?

The elderly, in general, and those with chronic conditions are all high-risk groups, thus it is suggested that those with chronic conditions be inoculated if their conditions are stable, and if they respond well to prescribed medicine. The elderly in stable condition should continue to use prescribed medicine prior to and after the inoculation.

7. How about the eligibility for people with tumors, serious diseases, and those who have just undergone surgery?

It is suggested that these people should follow medical advice.

8. Who among the elderly are not fit for vaccination?

Based on relevant regulations, the elderly not eligible for vaccines include:

a. Those who have manifested serious allergic reactions in their previous vaccinations;

b. Those who are feverish after being in acute state of infections;

c. Those in acute conditions of chronic diseases should postpone vaccination. For instance, patients receiving chemotherapy, those showing serious symptoms of hypertension, suffering coronary heart attack, in developing stage of conditions relating to immunological or nervous systems, or prone to seizure due to epilepsy;

d. Those in the terminal stage of chronic conditions.

9. Regarding vaccination for the elderly, including those in institutions, what are the issues to be noted?

For those in senior-care facilities under lockdown, elderly people eligible for vaccines can be escorted by staff as volunteers, after obtaining a written consent from the family. The care facility should make due arrangements to ensure smooth vaccinations.

10. Are the elderly who were recently vaccinated for influenza or other diseases eligible for COVID-19 vaccination?

A minimum interval of 14 days is recommended for such people. The vaccination interval requirement could be waived in very special conditions, for instance exceptions might be made for those who badly need to be vaccinated for rabies, tetanus, immunoglobulin, and others.

Refer to the instructions for specifics.


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