As the number of cases in China rises, China launches a COVID vaccination drive for villages

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By Brenda Goh

SHANGHAI, (Reuters) – After receiving her fourth COVID-19 vaccination shot, Xu Yafa (a 64-year old retiree who lives in a small village just outside of Shanghai), was able to recover and explain why she needed a booster.

“Because it is afraid!” She told Reuters.

Xu was one of a few elderly people in Zhongmin who braved the cold Wednesday to participate in a government campaign to ensure that COVID vaccines reached those most in need.

China’s Health Authority pledged last month to work together to improve vaccination coverage for over-60s. It promised to deploy specialist vehicles and to set up temporary clinics within villages and communities to help increase coverage.

China’s zero-COVID policy has been ended. This means that it is more urgent to vaccinate the vulnerable.

Wang Yaqian was a doctor who participated in the Zhongmin vaccine programme and stressed the importance to go directly into the village.

“We began to vaccinate last season – the first jab (second jab), the second jab (third jab) were all done in the village as there are many elderly people. It’s difficult for them to get around and our service centre can be quite far from the village,” she stated.

It is difficult for these villagers climb up and down the steps. We chose to go to the village because it is easier and there is more demand.

China’s Health Authority promised to launch targeted public information campaigns in order to spread the message that vaccines not only protect oneself from COVID but are also safe.

Zhao Hui, a local Communist Party official said that they had been convincing residents face-to-face about the importance of vaccination.

“There are elderly people with a lot of anxiety so we have asked a family doctor come to their door and mobilize them. Then, depending on their illness or their medicines, let them know if they can be vaccinated.” she explained. “All this is done at their home.”

Zhao stated that the village has already had a few positive cases, but there were concerns about elderly people returning home in January for Chinese New Year.

She said, “So everybody is hoping that they will be able to get boosters and ensure themselves their own health.”

(Reporting by Brenda Goh, Writing by David Stanway, Editing by Alison Williams

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