BEIJING - Some local communities in Beijing have started giving COVID-19 vaccine doses to people older than 60, even as the city's disease-control authorities publicly advise this age group against inoculation. In some countries, including the United States and Britain, people over 65 are among top priority groups in their vaccination roll-outs, as the elderly have a higher risk of death and hospitalisation after contracting the virus compared to younger adults. China's vaccination programme, under which 40.5 million doses had been administered as of Feb. 9, has not openly included those over 59 and younger than 18 currently, with Chinese vaccine makers citing less complete clinical trial data for minors and the elderly. According to messages sent by some communities in Beijing's central Dongcheng district, seen by Reuters, residents over 60 are being told they can go to designated sites to get their shots. The vaccinations are not mandatory. However, an article published online by the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control on Sunday categorised those over 60 as unsuitable for vaccination, in line with national guidelines. Beijing is not currently fighting any COVID-19 clusters, having last reported a local case on Jan. 29. China is due to open its annual meeting of parliament on Friday, when thousands of delegates will converge on Beijing. Beijing Municipal People's Government said on Monday it had vaccinated some people aged 60 or over who needed a vaccine and were in good physical condition. "For the next step, Beijing will implement comprehensive vaccination for the elderly in a timely manner based on national suggestions," it added in a statement to Reuters. China has four locally developed vaccines approved for general public vaccination: two from China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), one from Sinovac Biotech and one from CanSino Biologics Inc (CanSinoBIO) <6185.HK>. The formal approvals for vaccines from CanSinoBIO and Sinovac were for people older than 18, without age cap, according to company statements. REUTERS
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