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Assessment of the impact of the vaccine pass policy on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and uptake among Chinese adults in Hong Kong.

Vaccine 2024 April 16
BACKGROUND: Recognising the importance of attaining high vaccine coverage to mitigate the COVID-19 impact, a Vaccine Pass scheme was implemented during and after the first large Omicron wave with high mortality in older ages in Hong Kong in early 2022 requiring three doses by June 2022. We did not identify any studies evaluating the policy impact of vaccination mandates with vaccine uptake over whole policy period of time in a Chinese population. We aim to evaluate the impact of the Vaccine Pass policy on COVID-19 vaccine uptake in adults in a Chinese population in Hong Kong.

METHODS: We analysed patterns in vaccine uptake and hesitancy using local data from population vaccine registry and 32 cross-sectional telephone surveys conducted from October 2021 to December 2022. The association of Vaccine Pass phases with vaccine uptake was examined using logistic regression analyses, taking into account covariates including self-risk perception, perceived self-efficacy in preventing COVID-19 and trust in government in pandemic control as well as physical distancing measures and demographics.

RESULTS: The uptake of primary series and third doses was positively significantly associated with the successive stages of Vaccine Pass implementation (adjusted odds ratios ranged from 2.41 to 7.81). Other statistically significant drivers of uptake included age group, chronic condition, higher perceived personal susceptibility to COVID-19, higher trust in government, and higher educational attainment.

CONCLUSION: Vaccine uptake in older adults was observed to have increased by a greater extent after the policy annoucement and implementation, under the contextual changes during and after a large Omicron wave with high mortality in Hong Kong in early 2022. Since the policy withdrawal the uptake of further booster doses has been very low in all ages. We suggest that improving voluntary booster uptake in older adults should be prioritized.

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