CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan to expand COVID-19 vaccination of medical workers next week

03/31/2021 09:06 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, March 31 (CNA) Taiwan's COVID-19 vaccination program will be expanded with effect from April 6 to include a wider category of medical workers, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Wednesday.

So far, 12,605 people have received the AstraZeneca vaccine since the rollout began on March 22, according to the CECC.

These include 12,329 frontline workers -- those treating COVID-19 patients or working at facilities where infected patients are hospitalized -- which accounts for only 6 percent of the 204,609 workers eligible in this category.

Athletes who will be competing in the Tokyo Olympics have also begun to receive the vaccine.

In the next phase of the program, the vaccine will be available to all hospital staff, and people who work at health clinics, pharmacies and government quarantine centers, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at a press briefing.

The expanded medical categories cover an estimated 429,857 people, more than double the number who qualified to receive the jab in the first round, said Chen, who heads the CECC.

Furthermore, the number of hospitals at which the vaccine will be available will increase from 87 to 103, according to the CECC.

Five cases of serious reactions have been recorded since the rollout began, with one person developing a severe allergic reaction and four others hospitalized with conditions such as dizziness and shortness of breath, according to the CECC.

Other reports have been received of mild side effects such as headaches, muscle pains, fever, and redness and pain at the injection site, the CECC said, listing 46 such cases.

CECC spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said Wednesday that 6,528 people have so far joined a "V-Watch" system, which was launched by Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to allow those who have been vaccinated to regularly report their health status to the CDC.

About 7.8 percent of the 6,528 people in the system had reported that they were not well enough to go to work after receiving the jab, while 25 percent had reported a temperature of over 38 degrees Celsius, according to Chuang.

The most common side effect reported has been soreness of the injection site and tiredness, which may last several days, Chuang said.

The "V-Watch" voluntary system is intended to help the CDC track people's response to the vaccine and is not meant to provide medical advice or treatment in the event of severe reactions, Chuang had told CNA earlier.

People are advised to consult a doctor or call the 1922 vaccine hotline if they develop symptoms such as dizziness, difficulty breathing, blurred vision or severe pain, he said.

Taiwan has received 117,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine so far -- all AstraZeneca -- and the rollout is being implemented on the recommendations of the national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), according to the CECC.

(By Chiang Yi-ching)

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