Beijing Officially Announces Vaccine Roll Out for Foreign Residents

At long last, Beijing’s Foreign Affairs Office (FAO) officially announced today that COVID-19 vaccines will soon be made available for the city's foreign nationals.

While there was no specific date for the rollout to begin, the announcement stated that foreign nationals should check notices issued either by their employer or their residence.

More specifically, the FAO announcement states “foreign nationals working in Beijing should make appointments through their employers; foreign teachers and students in colleges and universities should make appointments through such institutions, and other foreign nationals in Beijing should make appointments through their residential community offices.”

To date, there's no way for people to sign up outside of these two channels. If you haven't been asked yet, please check with your office administrator or your residential building management.

Multiple foreign residents in the Beijinger's Safe Sane WeChat groups report that they have already been asked to list their intention to receive the vaccine. Some specific communities – diplomatic personnel and journalists to name two – have already begun receiving their first dose.

At present, the vaccine is only available for people 18 and older, and the vaccine administered will be “domestic inactivated SARS-CoV-2” vaccines that require two doses. Recipients will not have a choice of which vaccine to they will receive, but you can learn more about the four domestic vaccines available in China from our previous blog on the subject.

If you’re signed up with Beijing’s healthcare plan or have one through your employer then the vaccine is free, otherwise, it runs RMB 93.5 per dose. And make sure you carve enough time out of your day, as it’s recommended that folks hang around the vaccine site for 30 minutes post-inoculation in case of adverse side-effects.

Additionally, the announcement takes care to mention that the Beijing Health Kit app will “soon have a new feature of printing the COVID-19 vaccination certificate, which foreign nationals may access after taking their second dose.” However, there was no specific mention of the coveted Vaccine Passport.

Other information is relatively obvious and straightforward. For instance, you should bring relevant documents such as a passport and valid residence permit. Likewise, you will be asked to sign an informed consent waiver and “a statement of bearing personal responsibility for all risks associated with the vaccination.” Should you have any pre-existing conditions that might preclude you from getting the vaccine, you should definitely inform the person who’s about to stick a needle in your arm.

As we’ve mentioned before, just because you get the vaccine doesn’t mean you can go back to business as usual, given that vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective, and different people’s bodies will take to the vaccine in different ways. As such, you will still be required to wear a mask in crowded places such as the subway, practice social distancing when possible, and are encouraged to continue washing your hands.

As a side note, we conducted a small poll on Mar 26 to find out how foreigners feel about getting the Chinese vaccine. Of 676 respondents, 64 percent said they will take the Chinese vaccine now, whereas 14 percent said they will wait until they can get a foreign vaccine. Meanwhile, another 14 percent were undecided and 5 percent declared they’d be getting no vaccine at all. 3 percent of the people polled were already vaccinated.


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