TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said on Monday (Nov. 29) that second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT) COVID vaccine can be administered to children 12-17 years old, while adults can begin receiving a third dose of mRNA vaccines early next year.
During a press conference that afternoon, Chen said that a panel of experts from the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Sunday decided to resume administration of the second dose of the BNT vaccine after concerns over myocarditis were allayed. In addition, the committee has decided to allow adult recipients of the BNT and Moderna mRNA vaccines to receive a third dose six months after their second.
During Sunday's meeting, the committee came to the consensus that the optimal interval between the first and second doses of the BNT vaccine for children between the ages of 12 and 17 years old is 12 weeks. Chen said in the event of a serious adverse reaction to the first dose, the recipient should consult with a physician on whether to receive the second dose.
He stressed that such vaccinations are voluntary and that letters of intent and parental consent must be presented before a vaccine can be delivered. Chen said that because the ACIP has just issued its guidance on the matter, the legal consent forms must be prepared, and he estimated that inoculations will not start until mid-December.
As for a third mRNA dose for adults, the committee agreed that the interval between the second and third shots should be at least six months.
In terms of the administration of the third dose of mRNA to adults, the top priority will be given to medical personnel, followed by central and local government epidemic prevention staff, and the third-highest priority group will be airline crews. Those over the age of 65 who are at a risk for severe illness will also be prioritized.
When asked when inoculations of the third dose for adults can begin, Chen said after Jan. 1 of 2022. He stressed that there is already enough quantity of the mRNA vaccines, but he said that the current priority is to finish delivering the first and second doses before launching the third dose.
By the end of January, it is estimated that 263,000 adults will be eligible for the third dose of an mRNA vaccine.