Chinese health officials are pushing a campaign to get older citizens vaccinated against COVID-19 to reduce infections and hospitalizations. But many people have concerns about vaccine side effects and are refusing to get them.
The country’s efforts to get people vaccinated include sending health workers door-to-door and paying citizens 60 years and older to get the vaccine. But many people near or above retirement age are still resistant to getting a shot.
China’s National Health Commission recently said more than 90 percent of the country’s population have been vaccinated. But only about two-thirds of individuals over age 80 have received a vaccine. Government records suggest the country has more than 191 million people over the age of 65.
Li Liansheng is a 64-year-old man who told The Associated Press he had been vaccinated before he caught COVID-19. But he has several friends who are refusing to get vaccinated because they have heard stories about the shots causing side effects.
Li said a 55-year-old friend suffered fevers and blood clots after being vaccinated. He said, while it is not known whether the shot was to blame, his friend is unwilling to get vaccinated again.
“When people hear about such incidents, they may not be willing to take the vaccines,” Li said. He added that his experience with COVID-19 was not that serious and said the sickness felt like a “normal cold.”
Li spoke to the AP while exercising outdoors in Beijing. He noted that he is considering getting a second shot, known as a booster, because of the publicity campaign. “As long as we know the vaccine won’t cause big side effects, we should take it,” he said.
China has joined other countries in treating COVID-19 cases instead of depending on widespread restrictions to block infections. The country has dropped or eased rules on testing, quarantines and movements of people. But that change has resulted in a flood of sick patients going to the hospital.
The National Health Commission announced a campaign on November 29 to raise the vaccination rate among Chinese of retirement age. Health experts say that is an important step as the country seeks to reduce cases of infection to avoid a health care crisis.
China kept its case numbers low for two years with a “zero-COVID” policy that isolated cities and kept millions of people in their homes. But now it is facing infection increases that other countries have already experienced.
The government has recorded only six COVID-19 deaths this month, bringing the country’s official total to 5,241. But some experts have questioned whether the official numbers are correct.
Health experts have estimated 1 to 2 million COVID-19 deaths in China through the end of 2023.
In some neighborhoods in Beijing, officials are offering people over age 60 up to $70 to accept the vaccines. But that is not enough to persuade many to get vaccinated.
Some individuals resist getting the shots because they have diabetes, heart problems and other health conditions. This is the case even after experts have advised that it is even more urgent for people with such conditions to get vaccinated.
I’m Jill Robbins.
The Associated Press reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
fever – n. a body temperature that is high than normal
blood clot – n. a thick mass of blood that forms in a vessel and may block the flow of blood in the vessel
quarantine – n. the period of time during which a person or animal that has a disease or that might have a disease is kept away from others to prevent the disease from spreading
isolate – v. separate someone or something from other people or things
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