The COVID-19 vaccination campaign for China's elderly is proceeding steadily, as the country increases efforts to improve medical treatment for those aged 60 and above.
Wu Liangyou, deputy director of the National Health Commission's Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control, said at a news conference on Thursday that about 226.9 million people aged 60 or above have been vaccinated as of Wednesday, 215 million of whom are fully vaccinated.
He said that as of Wednesday, around 3.338 billion doses of vaccines have been administered to 1.28 billion people, roughly 91.12 percent of China's population. About 1.249 billion are fully vaccinated.
"We've encouraged healthcare departments and medical institutes to help people develop an objective understanding of vaccination work at schools, and in villages and nursing homes," he said. "It's an important way to protect ourselves and to speed up the vaccination campaign."
Guo Yanhong, an official with the commission's Medical Administration Bureau, said at the news conference that the recently reported deaths have mostly occurred among elderly patients with preexisting health conditions.
"These deaths remind us that it's also very important to pay attention to the treatment of preexisting health conditions when treating patients infected with novel coronavirus," she said.
Guo said that in nursing homes and in homes with elderly family members, it's necessary to prevent outbreaks of infection. "Whenever infections occur, the elderly should remain at home and under closed-loop management."
She added that it's also important they get vaccinated to avoid severe illness or death. "We suggest that the elderly wear masks, frequently wash their hands and avoid mass gatherings."
To regulate the medical treatment and help reduce the possibility of infections among the elderly becoming severe, Guo said that the country is working to improve the ability of designated hospitals to offer better treatment for patients with existing health conditions.
"We will keep promoting vaccinations for the elderly and push forward the research and development of medicines for the elderly," she added.