COVID-19 vaccinations pass 20,000, self-paid option available soon

Taipei-The number of people who have received the first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine in Taiwan has passed 20,000, and those not on the priority list could be allowed to pay for a jab by late April, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Thursday.

Taiwan begun its vaccine rollout on March 22, and as of 10 a.m. Thursday, 20,075 people had received a vaccine dose, CECC spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang (???) said at a press briefing.

Currently, only medical workers, employees at health clinics, pharmacies and government quarantine centers, and athletes representing Taiwan in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics are eligible to receive the vaccine.

From April 12, rollout will be expanded to include epidemic prevention workers at the local and central government levels, as well as those with a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure due to their jobs.

As the two shipments of COVID-19 vaccines that Taiwan has received expire soon — 117,000 doses bought directly from AstraZeneca expire on June 15, and 199,200 AstraZeneca doses supplied through COVAX expire on May 31 — the CECC is considering expanding eligibility to the next category of people on its priority list.

Another concern has been the relatively low level of take-up among those who qualify for priority vaccination.

The next category comprises those who are going abroad under special circumstances, such as government or diplomatic officials, according to the CECC.

Those going abroad for other reasons, such as for business or leisure, would also be able to get a jab, though they would have to pay for it themselves.

Chuang said Thursday that the CECC will make relevant announcements on expanding COVID-19 eligibility to these groups as early as next week, and those who want to get vaccinated before going abroad could do so by the end of April.

Around 5,000 to 10,000 doses will be reserved for those paying to receive the vaccine, he added.

As of Thursday, nine cases of serious reactions to the vaccine have been recorded, the latest being a man in his 20s who developed bruises on various parts of his body on the fifth day after being vaccinated, according to Chuang.

The man was hospitalized, although tests showed that he had normal levels of blood coagulation. He has since recovered and returned to work, Chuang said.

Other reports have been received of mild side effects such as headaches, muscle pains, fever, and redness and pain at the injection site, Chuang said, listing 76 such cases.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel