Public urged to take advantage of remaining 400,000 free flu shots

01/26/2021 07:35 PM
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Lee Ping-ing, a doctor at National Taiwan University Hospital, who is also the convener of the health ministry
Lee Ping-ing, a doctor at National Taiwan University Hospital, who is also the convener of the health ministry's vaccine advisory group, speaks about the flu vaccine during a press briefing. Photo courtesy of the CECC

Taipei, Jan. 26 (CNA) More than 400,000 government funded influenza vaccine shots remain available for those in Taiwan who have not received a flu shot since the flu season began last November, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Tuesday.

Starting Saturday, the remaining flu shots will be available to Taiwan nationals and foreign nationals with permanent residency who have not yet been vaccinated, except for infants under 6 months old, the CECC said in a statement, calling these people to take advantage of the free shots. 

The government initially purchased 6 million doses of flu vaccine for its annual free vaccination program launched Oct. 5, 2020, but then bought an additional 410,000 doses due to high demand.

As of Monday, over 6 million doses of the influenza vaccine have been administered, according to Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC.

At a press briefing Tuesday, Chen said that although the flu season is ongoing, outbreaks have been well contained.

With over 400,000 free flu shots remaining, the government has decided to offer them to everyone who has not yet been vaccinated, excluding babies 6 months and under, he said.

As a few people could develop a fever and/or muscle soreness after inoculation, symptoms that are indistinguishable from those of other infections, Chen suggested individuals subject to self-health management get vaccinated after completing the 7-day period of self-health management.

According to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the weekly number of emergency department visits from Jan. 17-23 due to flu-like illnesses totaled 39,656, up 5.6 percent from the previous week, but still the lowest in the same period for the past four flu seasons.

In Taiwan, flu season usually begins in November and peaks around February the following year before slowing down in March.

Previously, only citizens and legal residents of Taiwan who fell into certain groups were eligible to receive the free shot.

These included health care workers, pregnant women, people over the age of 50, those with high-risk chronic illnesses, patients with rare or acute diseases, children over the age of six months, and elementary, junior and senior high school students, among others.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan, Yu Hsiao-han and Evelyn Kao)

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