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Can foreigners in China apply for COVID-19 vaccination?
Published on: 2021-01-13
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With the COVID-19 vaccine being rolled out among high-risk groups in China, some foreigners living in the country covet for a dose to ensure they are not left out of the immunization plan. Chinese vaccines are seen as a lifesaver by many expats, especially those who are likely to return home once free flow across borders is restored.

Official vaccination registration for foreign residents is not available in most parts of China. But foreigners who fall in the category of priority groups in China are able to register for a dose through the organization they work for in some cities.

Experts say it is unlikely that the Chinese government will discriminate against foreigners in terms of vaccine availability, but stressed all procedures need to be completed as required by national policy and guidelines.

Securing a dose

Given the goal of vaccinating 50 million people ahead of the 2021 Spring Festival holidays, many cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong Province have already started mass inoculation, covering nine key groups of people including medical staff and workers in cold-chain, food and logistics sectors.

Health authorities in most of the first-tier cities including Guangzhou, Beijing and Shenzhen said they currently only arrange vaccination for key groups irrespective of nationality.

Foreign citizens who work in high-risk sectors such as cold-chain food or public transportation can be given priority for injection along with the Chinese staff, as long as their industry supervisory government department can make unified arrangement for them.

Beijing's Chaoyang district has rolled out mass vaccination for all people working in cold-chain and food industry since January 1.

Hannah Frishberg, an American national working in a university in Shanghai, received a dose produced by Chinese state-owned producer Sinopharm on a voluntary basis at a sports center vaccination site in Shanghai on Tuesday as part of group registration by her university.

Hannah said she has no serious side effect but only little fatigue and some bruising on the injection site after her initial dose.

She noted that all her foreign colleagues who have stayed in China for the past 14 days were given the option to receive the vaccine. She was asked to show her passport before the injection, and to link her passport number with the vaccine code for tracking safety. The cost was covered by the university for all those who volunteered to take the shot.

"I did not feel unsafe before taking the vaccine because I think China has done a great job with COVID-19 management and I did not travel internationally to avoid the risk of infection to myself and others. So I was not worried, but now I can say that I feel that my participation in receiving this vaccine will lead to the defeat of the virus hopefully," Hannah told the Global Times on Wednesday.

She suggested that she trusts Chinese vaccines' safety and effectiveness while still looking forward to seeing more data from the trials that go out for peer review.

Who can apply?

Foreigners in the category of priority groups can register for vaccination in some cities.

Cities like Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are offering vaccines to key groups irrespective of nationality.

Nine key groups include workers in medical, cold-chain, food, and logistics sectors.

Foreigners' passport no. is registered with the vaccine code for tracking safety.

Guangzhou is allowing foreigners to apply for a dose with proof of urgency.

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