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2021-07-13 08:57:35

Adults not vaccinated against COVID-19 will soon lose access to certain public buildings — including hospitals, schools, and shopping malls — as well as public transport in several eastern Chinese counties.

Beginning on Friday, various local governments in the provinces Jiangxi and Zhejiang announced dates after which anyone aged 18 and over will need to show proof of having received at least one vaccination shot when entering public buildings.

The earliest deadline for at least one shot, in the Zhejiang county Qingtian, is set on July 21. A month later, two shots will be required. People unable to take the vaccination because of medical reasons will be exempt.

In certain counties in Shandong province, unvaccinated people showing up to public buildings will have their information recorded and told to get inoculated.

Access to venues ranging from shopping malls and cinemas to airports and train stations across China already requires people to show a health QR code on their phone, proving they have not been to areas with known outbreaks. In May, Shandong added a golden trim to its provincial health code to indicate a person’s vaccinated status, at the time saying it was meant to encourage people to get inoculated.

China is currently in the midst of a country-wide vaccination drive. As of Sunday, over 1.3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines — many of which require two doses per person — had been administered.

The Chinese government has set the target of fully vaccinating 64% of the population by the end of the year, and lower levels of government have been told to prioritize vaccinating as many people as possible. In many places, groceries such as rice and cooking oil are being gifted as encouragement.

After China brought the initial outbreak in Wuhan under control, the country has only experienced sporadic and relatively small outbreaks, leading some people to question the necessity of getting vaccinated. Local infections were most recently reported this week in the southwestern province of Yunnan, and last month in Guangdong province, in southern China.

On social media, people responded to the new measures with anger and confusion, calling them too rigid and abrupt. “In the beginning, they said (vaccination) was voluntary,” wrote one user of microblogging site Weibo. “Turns out it’s mandatory after all.”

“I’m all for the measures,” wrote another Weibo user. But they said more clarifications were needed. “Will the health codes show when someone has a medical contraindication against getting vaccinated?”

Jin Lifen, who lives near Qingtian county, told Sixth Tone she is concerned about the measures since she has not yet been vaccinated. A mother of two, she worries she won’t be able to bring her daughters to the doctor or to kindergarten.

“I just heard the news, and now I’m anxious,” Jin said. “I guess I better go get vaccinated.”

Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.

(Header image: A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine in Nantong, Jiangsu province, July 5, 2021. Xu Congjun/People Visual)