Why did China fail to force their elderly to get vaccinated against COVID, despite being an authoritarian state?

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The Politicus
Mar 24, 2022 07:38 PM 0 Answers
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Hong Kong has been in the news recently due to their extremely low vaccination rate for the elderly:

Just 15% of elderly residents in Hong Kong’s care homes are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, about one-sixth the coverage in the U.S., despite evidence from early in the pandemic that such facilities are hotbeds for disease and death.

This resulted in them having one of the highest death rates per capita in the world last week:

Hospitals and morgues are overflowing, with bodies left unattended in hallways and in rooms with living patients. Health care workers report burnout and low morale as they work 80 hours a week. And nursing homes are being ravaged, with low vaccination rates among older people driving Hong Kong’s Covid-19 deaths per capita to the highest in the world, according to Our World in Data.

China has been doing better but still failed to reach a 100% vaccination rate:

About 51% of over 80-year-olds have received two shots and some 20% have gotten boosters, health officials told reporters at a briefing in Beijing Friday. While 87.9% of China’s 1.4 billion people have been vaccinated with two shots -- a high percentage globally -- the numbers decline with age, with the figure dropping to 82% for those between 70 and 79.

In contrast, the UK has a 88+% vaccination rate for those aged 70+, despite being a democracy, and thus not being able to use as much coercion as an authoritarian state would.

So why didn't China use their powers to force 100% of the elderly to get vaccinated? They've enforced far worse medical procedures during the one-child-policy era, so it seems like enforcing the vaccine on those most vulnerable should've been a no-brainer. This is especially perplexing given China's insistence on following a "Zero COVID" strategy and refusing to accept even a small number of infections within their borders.

The question mentions Hong Kong as an illustration of why its important to vaccinate 100% of the elderly population - I'm primarily interested in why China didn't do it, as Hong Kong is (for now) far less authoritarian.

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