Beijing will provide COVID-19 vaccinations for certain groups in nursing homes, including the elderly and caregivers, on a voluntary basis amid efforts to prevent a renewed coronavirus outbreak at such institutions during autumn and winter, local authorities said.
Those eligible to receive the vaccines include nursing home kitchen staff, security guards and cleaners, according to a recent document released by the municipal civil affairs and finance bureaus, Beijing Daily reported on Friday.
The document didn't state the producer(s) of the vaccines, nor announce a specific timetable.
Xing Yinli, director of Jingkangyuan, a nursing home in Fengtai district with about 290 elderly residents, said they received the document recently and will strictly follow its guidance.
"It's our top priority to strengthen epidemic prevention and control," Xing said, adding they have been adopting methods such as keeping detailed records of resident contacts outside the facility, and encouraging online visits for family members.
In terms of vaccinations, she said the nursing home will ask for permission from residents, their family members and staff before administering vaccines.
In late October, Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, carried out an emergency COVID-19 vaccine inoculation program, allowing the public to make reservations for injections, with key groups prioritized. A similar program was also organized in Jiaxing, Ningbo and Yiwu in Zhejiang.
Nationwide, emergency use of homegrown COVID-19 vaccines was approved in June and launched in late July.
China now has four coronavirus candidate vaccines in phase three clinical trials.
The document from Beijing also said nursing homes should conduct nucleic acid testing based on regular sampling for high-risk groups every month, such as kitchen workers and residents who leave the facility to see a doctor. Tests will cover all people in nursing homes considered at medium and high risk if new infections are reported in the city.
All fresh food and express packages, especially imported cold-chain food, should get thoroughly disinfected before entering nursing homes. Routine disinfections should be strengthened in kitchens, storerooms and restrooms, it said.
The document also recommended noncontact visits from family members, such as via video chats or through intercom devices separated by glass barriers.