China Update: Vaccination Information
Since December 2020, COVID-19 vaccinations have been available in China, with large-scale inoculations rolled out in major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, and East China's Zhejiang Province.
The COVID-19 vaccine is offered to people at high risk of infection, such as those working at airlines, ports, hospitals, “cold-chain” workplaces, and people engaged in jobs related to basic city functions—like taxi drivers, market vendors, and restaurant staff. As of the end February, more than 52 million doses have been administered, according to the fourth session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Impact on Expatriates Living in China
From a national standpoint, the current vaccination drive in China is open to “work entities” and not individual residents, and guidelines do not distinguish between nationalities. However, each local health authority may issue slightly different guidelines regarding the vaccination of foreign nationals.
Official vaccination registration for foreign residents is not available in most parts of China except for those who fall into a priority group. These expatriates will be able to register for the vaccine through their employer in selected cities. For example, expatriate teachers working in universities in Shanghai have been vaccinated under the organization of the university.
However, health authorities in most of China’s first-tier cities including Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shenzhen have arranged for the vaccination of key groups, regardless of nationality. Here, we review how different areas of China are rolling out vaccination programs:
Residents of Shanghai between the age of 18 and 59 are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and it is free.
Permanent residents with a need to travel abroad for personal reasons will be able to make appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations at the 17 community health centers across the city. Residents must present their ID cards or passports, valid visas, and flight tickets before they can be vaccinated. However, expatriates are not eligible for the vaccines currently.
The Guangzhou health authority allows foreign nationals living in the city to apply for vaccination with a valid ID (or the Chinese resident card of an immediate family member) at their own expense of 200 yuan per dose(about USD$31) at a local vaccination site if they have urgent need to travel abroad and present proof of urgency.
From February 17, Beijing successively launched a COVID-19 vaccination program for community residents. Anyone who meets the vaccination requirements in the community and is 18-59 years old can make an appointment with their local residential committee. Vaccination is voluntary and free. At present, it is not clear whether vaccines are available for foreign residents, but they can approach their employer or local residential committee for enquires.
Hong Kong, China:
Hong Kong began its vaccination program on February, 26, administering vaccines to the following priority groups:
- Persons aged 60 years or above and a maximum of two caregivers who accompany elderly people aged 70 or above
- Those in healthcare or anti-epidemic related work
- Residents and staff of residential care homes for the elderly/persons with disabilities
- People maintaining critical public services
- Those working for cross-boundary transportation companies or at control points and ports.
Hong Kong residents that fall within these priority group can register online to receive the vaccine at one of its 29 Community Vaccination Centers (CVCs). Vaccines are also available in more than 1,500 private clinics and clinics under Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority. Vaccinations are free and open to all applicable Hong Kong residents.
Macao began its COVID-19 vaccination program towards the end of February. According to the Macao SAR Government, over 15,000 people have been booked for a vaccination so far. There are currently 12 vaccination points available to the public, open from 9am to 9pm, with a maximum of 5,000 appointments per day. Members of the public can choose the vaccination point, time and date, and type of vaccine through the Health Bureau's online booking system.
Airline Boarding Requirement
All passengers flying to China, who have received a COVID-19 vaccination, must upload the following documents to apply for green health codes or certified health declaration codes:
- Vaccination certificate (including details such as name, product name/manufacturer, date of vaccination and issuance institution)
- Proof of a negative nose and throat swab
- Proof of an IgM anti-body test memo (blood test).
The health codes or the certified health declaration codes will be issued after the verification of these submitted documents.
At present, all passengers flying to China are required to be tested on entry and remain quarantined for medical observation. The specific duration of quarantine and the type of testing will depend on the city of entry.
Impact to Assignees
As vaccination programs are rolled out in phases across China, assignees are advised to get more information from their local authorities or through their organization, to check for eligibility, cost, and policy. Each company and city will have a different set of policies in terms of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.
As countries around the world roll-out their vaccination programs, we expect borders to open up to a varied degree in the second half of this year. To keep up to date on vaccination progress across the regions, as well as the latest insights on global mobility trends, subscribe to our blog and check out our dedicated COVID-19 resource hub.