The Government of Hong Kong SAR started to implement a territory-wide COVID-19 Vaccination Programme free of charge for all Hong Kong residents in February 2021. It is observed that there are voices and concerns towards the programme along with its implementation, including concerns from the People Living with HIV community.
According to the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme document, the safety and efficacy data of Sinovac vaccine on people with the impaired immune system have not been obtained, and the vaccination of Sinovac vaccine should be based on individual considerations. With the use of BioNTech vaccine and AstraZeneca vaccine in immunocompromised individuals, there are limited data and the immune response may be diminished.
As mentioned in the UNAIDS document, there is no data showing that People Living with HIV are at higher risk from the COVID-19 vaccines than other populations. However, in the meantime, the same document points out that, serious side-effects of a vaccine may occur so rarely that they cannot be detected among the first people to be vaccinated, regardless of the recipient is infected with HIV or not.
With regard to the concerns from the community, AIDS Concern has consulted medical opinion from a specialist in infectious disease at the HIV clinic of Kowloon Bay Integrated Treatment Center. COVID-19 vaccine relies on our immune system to make antibodies against the virus and generate immunological memory. Thus for People Living with HIV who would like to receive COVID-19 vaccination, they should consult from the medical opinion from their HIV clinic and check the amount of their CD4 cell, in order to ensure the bodies’ ability to generate an immune response towards the vaccine.
AIDS Concern would like to give a reminder that, People Living with HIV who would like to receive the COVID-19 vaccination should contact their HIV clinic and consult the medical opinion from their doctors.