CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan to expand COVID-19 vaccination to police officers, care workers

04/21/2021 05:50 PM
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CNA photo April 21, 2021
CNA photo April 21, 2021

Taipei, April 21 (CNA) Taiwan's COVID-19 vaccination program will be expanded, with effect from Friday, to include law enforcement personnel as well as residents and staff at long-term care facilities, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Wednesday.

Specifically, eligibility will be open to roughly 50,000 police officers and military police in Taiwan, as well as the 200,000 residents and staff at long-term care facilities and workers in correctional facilities, the CECC said.

As long as an individual qualifies and holds residency in Taiwan, they will be able to get a shot, meaning that migrant workers will also be included, the CECC said.

To receive the shot, police officers and military police can book an appointment at one of 174 hospitals providing COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the CECC.

Local health authorities will be in charge of arranging vaccinations for those at care and correctional facilities. Nurses will visit these locations to administer vaccines if demand is high, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, at a press briefing Wednesday.

The CECC has decided to expand eligibility to these groups, which are listed as categories five and six on the priority list, because "the number of people getting the vaccine is still low," Chen said.

He called on people eligible for the vaccine to get it as soon as possible, as it has proven effective in preventing serious COVID-19 cases and deaths from the disease.

Taiwan began its COVID-19 vaccination program on March 22. To date, 34,197 people have received the vaccine, or around 5.5 percent of the 618,000 people who are currently eligible, according to CECC data.

Eligibility is currently open to the first four categories of the CECC's priority list.

These include medical personnel, epidemic prevention workers, people with a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure due to their jobs, those traveling abroad on diplomatic or official business, and athletes representing Taiwan in international competitions.

In addition, individuals traveling overseas for business, study or medical purposes can also pay extra to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Given the current rate of vaccinations, it is likely that the imported vaccine doses Taiwan has received so far will not be fully used before they expire.

In the two shipments that Taiwan has received, a total of 117,000 vaccine doses purchased directly from AstraZeneca are due to expire on June 15, while 199,200 doses of the same brand supplied through COVAX will expire on May 31.

Taiwan has signed contracts to purchase 5.05 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, 10 million doses of AstraZeneca, and 4.76 million doses of unspecified brands through the COVAX program, which has so far allocated 1.02 million AstraZeneca shots to Taiwan.

(By Chiang Yi-ching)

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