China is vaccinating almost 14 million people a day, a record for the nation as worries grow amid a COVID-19 flareup.
The ramp up in shots comes just days after China detected its first new cluster in months with a smattering of cases in the eastern province of Anhui and northeastern region of Liaoning. Videos on social media showed citizens rushing to get their vaccines, with long queues at inoculation sites despite heavy rainfall.
Many nations in Asia, China included, are struggling to combat vaccine hesitation. Some people have been wooed into a sense of complacency due to the region’s early success in containing the virus while others simply don’t trust the safety or efficacy of the vaccines available. However, recent outbreaks in countries like Singapore and Taiwan are testing that reluctance as harsher lockdown measures are imposed, bringing into clearer focus the understanding that being vaccinated can help stop serious illness.
The escalation of shots in China — figures from the National Health Commission show 13.7 million vaccines were administered on Friday — means the country is now closer to its target of vaccinating 40% of its population, or at least delivering 560 million doses, by the end of June. As of Sunday, some 393 million doses had been given, with 210 million of those occurring over the past month, a sign of the accelerating roll out, official data show.
“Don’t hesitate, get vaccinated,” is the mantra of the official Xinhua News agency. “The fact that new infected people are not vaccinated is undoubtedly a wake-up call to all — to build an immunization barrier, vaccination is not an option but a must,” the state media outlet said on its official WeChat account.
It’s estimated China will have 900 million to 1 billion people vaccinated by next year, when herd immunity is expected to be reached, the head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, George Fu Gao, said in a recent interview.
Residents of Hefei, the capital city of Anhui province, have been rushing to get vaccinated after the first new cases were reported last week. The city administered 360,000 doses on Friday, the most in a single day for the hub of 10 million people, Xinhua reported.
China has enforced some of the harshest approaches in the world in terms of putting whole regions into lockdown and people into quarantine, even when only cases in the single digits are detected. Because of the latest outbreak, schools have been halted in the northern coastal city Yingkou in Liaoning while people are banned from leaving their residential compound in certain regions of Anhui.
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