Graffiti written by an extradition bill protestor that I also think
is pertinent to ask of those folks adopting a "wait and see"
approach towards Wuhan coronavirus vaccines
community vaccination centers
As I think it should be pretty apparent, I am on the "yellow" (pro-democracy) side of the Hong Kong political equation. As I also have made clear, I am one of the 17.107% to date of the Hong Kong population who have been vaccinated against the Wuhan coronavirus -- and also am among the 12.329% of the population who are fully vaccinated. (And should there be any doubt, I chose to get the BioNTech vaccine rather than the Sinovac!).
Contrary to popular conception, I do not believe both of these conditions to be mutually exclusive. And this is the case too for a number of my friends who are similarly simultaneously "yellow" and have been vaccinated against the Wuhan coronavirus.
Still, I cannot deny that a good number of "yellow" Hong Kongers appear to be reluctant to get jabbed -- be it with the BioNTech or or Sinovac vaccine -- because Hong Kong's vaccination program is a government one and their distrust and/or hatred of both the Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese governments makes it so that they refuse to have anything to do with them. At the same time though, my sense is that a good number of politically neutral or even "blue" (pro-government) Hong Kongers also are among the vaccine hesitant.
Indeed, the greater divide currently may be between "expatriates" and local residents: with the former tending to be more (openly) pro-vax than the latter; though I feel obliged to point out that I have at least one expat friend who is reluctant to be vaccinated along with a number of Hong Kong-born friends who have gone and had their jabs.
For those of us who have gone and been vaccinated, our reasons appear clear and shared for the most part. Specifically, we believe and trust in the science behind the vaccine -- specifically, BioNTech's, and thus feel that getting vaccinated with it helps protect us even more than doing such as just wearing masks alone can. (And yes, every single one of my friends in Hong Kong who have been vaccinated have all opted for the gold standard BioNTech -- more well known as Pfizer internationally -- vaccine over the way less effective SinoVac vaccine.) In addition, many of us know that public health is a joint effort and would like to do our bit to help Hong Kong achieve "herd immunity" against the coronavirus (by mass vaccination) sooner rather than later.
Alternatively, when talking to people who have not gone and got vaccinated, I've found that there appear to be a variety of reasons for their not having done so, with civil disobedience being just one of them and outright fear that their health will suffer after being vaccinated actually appearing to a more commonly cited factor. To be sure, the latter may mask the former in some cases but I don't think we can deny that the belief that they are more likely to get sick (or even outright die) from the vaccine than to be (fatally) infected with the coronavirus is real in many instances -- and that the fear of their health suffering from being vaccinated is so strong that some people who do go and get jabbed have made a point to prepare and make wills before doing so!
There is a very good Twitter thread on how many locals view the risks of being, and need to be, vaccinatede against the Wuhan coronavirus vis a vis expatriates. If I were to sum it up, it's that Hong Kongers believe masks work and so far have been proved largely right -- touch wood! -- and haven't been given concrete proof, by way of such as Hong Kong government policies, that the authorities truly believe in the vaccines they have procurred for Hong Kong.
Something else that needs to be factored into the equation is that, unlike many expats and people in other parts of the world, many Hong Kongers don't feel that there is a "normal" that they can or will be returning to in the post-vaccination/pandemic world. This is not least because there is zero guarantee that the Hong Kong government will lift many of the more unpopular "social distancing" measures (e.g., the ban on public gatherings and thus protests) even after "herd immunity" has been reached in Hong Kong, through vaccinations or some other measure. (And, yes, as a Niao Collective Tweet put it, "We don't like to dwell on it too much, but we often lay awake at night, wondering whether if the West had heeded the warnings and took up wearing masks early, stopped COVID's spread and prevented deaths... whether Hong Kong would still be (relatively) free.")
Renauld Haccart Tweeted back in September of last year that: "As noted by other commentators, there’s a fair chance that group gathering rules will be the very last to go, as they provide the perfect cover for police to disrupt any public protest of any size or form and make arrests." And more generally, Kevin Yam Tweeted earlier this month that: "a substantial portion of the population are convinced (with reason to date) that even if herd immunity is reached, the government will continue to use COVID as an excuse to maintain restrictions as a tool for the continuing political crackdown."
Still, I do think that AFP's Jerome Taylor has a point when he wrote that it is "Fairly clear [that the Hong Kong government] will continue to cite the virus as one of the reasons to refuse public gatherings for as long as possible and the widespread refusal of residents to get vaccinated makes that a lot easier for them to do with a straight face." So why give the authorities that excuse and stick to beat Hong Kongers with?
Also, with the authorities having shown their preference for the Sinovac vaccine over BioNTech's, why can't and don't people show their civil disobedience by going and getting the BioNTech vaccine rather than not protecting themselves by eschewing any vaccine altogether? (This especially to ensure that tens, of not hundreds, of thousands of these internationally sought-after vaccines do not expire and go to waste come September!)
In summary: I think those here in Hong Kong who oppose the government should have the strongest reason to go and get the BioNTech vaccine. Sadly though, as the statistics clearly show, mine is a minority opinion at the moment and for the foreseeable future!