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Vaccination obligation key to herd immunity

Datetime: 2021-04-13 09:12:48


Residents receive COVID-19 vaccination at a temporary vaccination site in Beijing, March 25, 2021.

China has so far administered 164.47 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with around 24.5 million doses given in the past six days, as the country continues to accelerate its vaccine rollout.

Yet that is still a far cry from the amount needed to build herd immunity, which requires at least 70 percent of the population to be vaccinated, a goal that the government is striving to achieve by the middle of next year.

It is an urgent task for the government to vaccinate all those who are eligible as soon as possible, so the country can reopen to the outside world after more than a year of pandemic-induced restrictions.

China is now producing 5 million vaccine doses a day, and will likely have produced 3 billion doses of vaccines by the end of the year, according to the National Health Commission. So unlike many other countries that have seen their vaccination programs stalled mainly because of supply shortages or delayed shipments, it will be able to produce the vaccines it needs to achieve its goal.

But hindering the endeavor to achieve a higher rate of vaccination at an earlier date is the fact that many people are still hesitant to get their shots due to various concerns. For example, some are still doubtful about the safety and efficacy of the new vaccines, while others think it\'s unnecessary to take the jabs given that the pandemic has been largely contained in China. Not to mention those who just want to "take a free ride", by waiting till herd immunity is achieved in the country next year.

To overcome these concerns, the government needs to work harder to drive home the fact that COVID-19 vaccines meet rigorous scientific standards, and have proven to be both safe and effective.

Yet while pushing forward with the vaccination program, officials at all levels must bear in mind that they should not force through their efforts — for example, by making vaccination compulsory for residents — no matter how well intended such policies may be. Doing so will only exacerbate public doubts and do a disservice to the fight against the virus.

How well the government can help the public use reason to prevail over fear, and trust in science to override ignorance in the vaccination drive will serve as a big testament to its governance capacity.

Encouraging every citizen to accept the responsibility and obligation to be vaccinated is the only way to build a nationwide firewall against the coronavirus.chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-04-12