China will prioritise high-risk workers in transport and logistics, not just healthcare workers, in its coronavirus vaccination programme, officials said at the weekend.
Cui Gang, head of the National Health Commission’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said port and airport workers, as well as people employed in cold-storage logistics, would be on the front line for jabs.
Fresh food market and public transit employees would also be a priority, he added.
Mr Cui said it was important to protect people against external threats as well as domestic transmission of the virus.
“Everyone has also noticed that several [outbreaks] might be related to imported cold chain logistics,” he said, referring to China’s disputed claims that recent imports of frozen food have been contaminated with the coronavirus.
Jiang Honghua makes dishes at her food stall in Wuhan as life in the Chinese city, once the centre of the coronavirus pandemic, has returned to normal
China has blamed Brazilian pork, Russian squid, Argentine beef and US chicken, among other products, for bringing in the virus but the World Health Organization maintains such contamination is unlikely.
Mr Cui said lower-priority workers should not worry about a delay in their vaccination. “We still have many effective prevention and control methods, such as personal protective equipment, wearing masks in public places, social distancing and frequent hand washing.”
Zeng Yixin, the head of the Vaccine Research and Development Team of the Joint Prevention and Joint Control Mechanism of the State Council and NHC deputy director, said it remained unclear how long the vaccine’s protection would last.
“It must be emphasised that the virus was discovered less than one year ago, so it is too early to say for how long the vaccine can protect,” he said. “We need to follow up and research continuously.”