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CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan begins phasing out Pfizer-BNT as first vaccine shot for minors

02/06/2023 05:26 PM
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File photo courtesy of Pingtung County Government
File photo courtesy of Pingtung County Government

Taipei, Feb. 6 (CNA) Taiwan will stop offering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as a first vaccine shot for children aged 6 months to 4 years and 12-17 years with immediate effect, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Monday.

At a press briefing, CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that around 2.75 million doses of BNT vaccines for adults, children and young children were due to expire in March or April.

To ensure that people under the age of 18 can still receive the same vaccine brand for their first and second shots, he said, the BNT shot will be phased out on a varying timeline for different groups of recipients.

According to Chuang, because around 1.39 million doses of the BNT vaccine for children aged 6 months to 4 years are nearing their expiration date, the CECC would stop offering the shot as a first vaccine dose, effective immediately.

Similarly, as 1.17 million doses of the BNT jab for children aged 5-11 have almost expired, that version of the vaccine will no longer be available as a first shot beginning April 2, he said.

Children in both of those age groups who are getting their first COVID-19 vaccine shot will instead be offered the Moderna brand vaccine, he said.

Meanwhile, Chuang said that around 190,000 doses of the adult version of the BNT shot would also expire in the near future.

As a result, children aged 12-17 -- who can take the adult BNT shot, but are required to receive first and second doses of the same brand vaccine -- will be offered the Novavax vaccine as a first shot starting Monday, Chuang said.

People aged 18 and above, meanwhile, will be able to receive a first shot of the BNT vaccine through Feb. 21, after which the Novavax vaccine will be offered as a first or second shot, he said.

At the press conference, Chuang also encouraged older people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or stay up to date on their booster shots, due to their increased risk of severe illness or death.

Currently, 10.2 percent of people aged 65-74 and 17.7 percent of people aged 75 and above have yet to receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, he said.

(By Chen Chieh-ling and Matthew Mazzetta)


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