News China races to vaccinate seniors, but many don’t

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities are going door-to-door to pay for COVID-19 vaccinations for people over 60.But even with the surge in casesLi Liansheng, 64, said his friends were shocked by the stories of fevers, blood clots and other side effects.

“When people hear about events like this, they may be reluctant to get vaccinated,” said Lee, who was vaccinated before contracting COVID-19. A few days after battling the virus for 10 days, Li developed a sore throat and cough. He said it was like having a “common cold” with a mild fever.

China has joined other countries in treating cases, rather than trying to curb the spread of the virus by removing or easing rules on testing, isolation and movement, in its attempt to reverse the recession. But the shift has already flooded hospitals with feverish, wheezing patients.

The National Health Commission announced on Nov. 29 a campaign to increase vaccination rates among older people in China, which health experts say is critical to averting a health care crisis. It is also the biggest hurdle before the ruling Communist Party lifts the last of the world’s strictest antivirus restrictions.

China has kept case numbers low for two years through its “zero COVID” strategy of isolating cities and confining millions of people to their homes.Now, since it drops this methodwhich is facing a widespread outbreak that other countries have already experienced.

The health board has recorded just six COVID-19 deaths this month, bringing the country’s official death toll to 5,241. This is despite multiple reports of the deaths of relatives.

China only counts deaths from pneumonia or respiratory failure Among its official COVID-19 death toll, a health official said last week. This unusually narrow definition excludes many deaths attributed to COVID-19 in other countries.

Experts predict that between 1 and 2 million people will die in China by the end of 2023.

Li, who works out at the tree-lined grounds of the Temple of Heaven in central Beijing, said he was considering a second booster because of the publicity campaign: “As long as we know the vaccine won’t cause major side effects, we should get it.”

Neighborhood committees, which make up the lowest level of government, have been ordered to find everyone aged 65 and over and track their health. They are doing what state media calls “ideological work,” lobbying residents to persuade elderly relatives to get vaccinated.

In Beijing, the Chinese capital, the Liulidun community has pledged up to 500 yuan ($70) for people over 60 to receive two doses of the vaccine and a booster.

The National Health Commission announced on Dec. 23 that the number of people vaccinated each day across the country more than doubled to 3.5 million. But that’s still only a fraction of the tens of millions of injections being administered every day in early 2021.

Elderly people are wary of the potential side effects of Chinese-made vaccines, and the government has yet to release results of tests on people in their 60s and older.

Li said a 55-year-old friend developed a fever and blood clots after being vaccinated. He said they couldn’t be sure the injection was the culprit, but his friend was reluctant to give it another shot.

“It is also said that the virus is constantly mutating“How do we know if the vaccine we get is working?” Lee said. ”

Some people are hesitant to get vaccinated because they have diabetes, heart disease and other health complications, even as experts warn that getting vaccinated is more urgent because the risk of COVID-19 for almost everyone outweighs potential vaccine side effects.

A 76-year-old man who walks the Temple of Heaven on crutches every day said he wanted to be vaccinated but had diabetes and high blood pressure. The man, who did not want to give his surname Fu, said he was wearing a mask and trying to avoid crowds.

Elderly people also have little sense of urgency because the low number of cases before the latest surge meant few people were at risk of infection. However, the lack of infection early on left few in China developing antibodies against the virus.

“Now, family members and relatives of the elderly should let them understand that infection can lead to serious illness and even death,” said Shibo Jiang of Fudan University School of Medicine in Shanghai.

More than 90 percent of people in China are vaccinated, but only about two-thirds of people over 80 are vaccinated, according to the National Health Commission. According to the 2020 census, China has 191 million people aged 65 and over — a group that would itself become the eighth most populous country, ahead of Bangladesh.

The Paper, a Shanghai-based news outlet, said that “the participation rate of the elderly over the age of 80 still needs to be improved.” “Older adults are at high risk.”

According to Li Zhuqing, Du Ming’s caretaker, Du Ming’s son arranged for the 100-year-old to be vaccinated when he pushed Du, who was wearing a mask and in a wheelchair, through the park. Li agreed to this approach because none of the family members were infected, which meant that if they were exposed, they were more likely to bring the disease home to Du.

Health officials declined reporters’ requests to visit the vaccination center. Two people who entered the center briefly were ordered to leave after staff found out who they were.


Associated Press researcher Yu Bing and video producers Olivia Zhang and Wayne Zhang contributed.

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