Taiwan’s COVID-19 vaccination programme will be expanded with effect from April 12 to include government epidemic prevention workers and those with a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure due to their jobs, the Central Epidemic Command centre (CECC) said Wednesday.
Taiwan’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout began on March 22 and currently, all hospital staff and employees at health clinics, pharmacies and government quarantine centers are eligible to receive the vaccine.
This category encompasses an estimated 488,000 people, according to the CECC.
Athletes who are set to compete in the Tokyo Olympics have also begun to receive the vaccine.
In the next phase of the programme, beginning April 12, the vaccine will be available to epidemic prevention workers at local and central government levels, as well as people who work in jobs that have a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure.
As defined by the CECC, epidemic prevention workers include officials in central and local governments that are crucial to maintaining the epidemic prevention system, frontline public health officials and personnel working in customs, immigration, quarantine and security at airports and other ports of entry.
They also include village chiefs and other workers who interact with people under home quarantine, paramedics and firefighters, and Coast Guard and airborne rescue personnel.
In total, this category comprises around 90,000 people, the CECC said.
People with a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure due to their jobs include crew members on international flights and commercial vessels, drivers of epidemic prevention taxis, quarantine hotel personnel and workers at ports of entry that are not included in the previous category, the CECC said.
This category has an estimated 35,000 people, meaning that the total number of people that will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine from April 12 will be 613,000.
Taiwan has received two shipments of COVID-19 vaccines so far 117,000 bought directly from AstraZeneca, which expire on June 15, and 199,200 AstraZeneca doses supplied through COVAX, which expire on May 31.
In the two weeks since Taiwan began the rollout, only 18,657 people have received a jab.
Taiwan has signed contracts to purchase a total of 10 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, 5.05 million doses of the Moderna vaccine and 4.76 million doses through the COVAX allocation programme, of which 1.02 million doses will be from AstraZeneca.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, who heads the CECC, reiterated Wednesday that there is no evidence that the AstraZeneca vaccine leads to blood clots, although the CECC will continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust Taiwan’s rollout as needed.