Chinese students let guard down against Covid-19 after jabs

Continued efforts to communicate importance of protective behaviour is vital, say researchers

October 9, 2021
student removing disposable surgical face mask, standing at classroom
Source: iStock

Since Chinese universities widely reopened, fully vaccinated students have weakened their protective behaviour, according to a new study.

A survey of 3,229 students in Chinese universities found that students were 17.1 per cent less likely to wash their hands after vaccination. The mask-wearing rate in public areas, such as classrooms, offices, libraries, also dropped by 22 per cent, the paper in Building and Environment found.

Participants were asked about their hand-washing frequency, mask-wearing, attention to indoor ventilation and other protective behaviour before and after vaccination.

“When the community infection is at a minimum, but with threat of sporadic cases, we consider mask-wearing to be probably the most important individual protection behaviour in the pandemic situation in China, where there is no serious transmission, said a co-author of the study, Yuguo Li

China has set the goal of having 80 per cent of its population vaccinated within this year. Higher education institutions across the country have been encouraging students to get jabbed.

The study also found that medical students were least fearful of being infected but had the highest rate of mask-wearing. “The pandemic itself has become a public health education class for everyone. This finding suggests the possible importance of continuing public education...on the benefits of mask wearing,” said Professor Li, professor of building environment at the University of Hong Kong.

Universities are believed to have an important role in encouraging students to keep up protective behaviour after vaccination in different ways.

“Students are a vulnerable group to Covid-19 due to their frequent close contact, ability to transmit infections carried from their homes, and potential risk of mental health problems,” said Zhang Nan, a co-author of the paper and associate professor at the Beijing Key Laboratory of Green Built Environment and Energy Efficient Technology, part of Beijing University of Technology.

“Universities should keep mask-wearing in crowded public indoor environments mandatory and the ventilation rate high in high-risk indoor environments.”

According to the study, nearly 76 per cent students reported that their universities provided convenient facilities for hand-washing, but only about 57 per cent of surveyed students were satisfied with the indoor ventilation on their campuses.

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Reader's comments (2)

“Universities should keep mask-wearing in crowded public indoor environments mandatory and the ventilation rate high in high-risk indoor environments.” Many UK Universities would do well to follow this advice, especially now China are apparently expecting further waves of Covid infections:
Data on weakened protective behaviours in UK HE students and staff would be useful. Has anyone done a survey?


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