China injects more than 22 million doses of coronavirus vaccines

·1 min read
FILE PHOTO: People stand at a vaccination site after receiving a dose of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, in Shanghai

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has administered about 22.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, a health official said on Wednesday, as the country steps up its campaign ahead of next month's Lunar New Year holidays and the accompanying flurry of travel.

The world's most populous nation has widened its targeted inoculation scheme since mid-December to include more priority groups facing higher risk of virus exposure, in a bid to prevent any outbreaks in winter and spring.

"Overall, the work is progressing in a smooth and orderly manner," Zeng Yixin, vice director of the National Health Commission, told a news conference, referring to the vaccination effort.

China aims to vaccinate 50 million people before the Lunar New Year in February, state media Global Times said this month.

The nationwide vaccine scheme now prioritises essential groups such as workers in medical, transport and food services, employees and students going abroad. The elderly and others will have to wait.

However, the Chaoyang district in the capital, Beijing, has already started giving vaccines to citizens outside essential groups.

Some communities in the district of Dongcheng said residents aged between 18 and 59 can sign up for inoculation as long as they have no medical conditions that might make vaccination unsuitable. But they did not say when doses would be available.

(Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)