TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday (March 3), Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) officials said medical workers will be the first to receive shots.
The CECC announced that 117,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine had arrived in Taiwan. CECC Spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said the vaccines would be distributed to 100-200 medical institutions across the country.
Chuang said that an appointment system would be set up, with the first round of vaccines expected to go to medical staff. If they happen to work in the same hospital where the shots are being given, Chuang said they can receive them on the spot.
Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said the priority for the first batch of jabs will be given to medical personnel in special wards, negative pressure isolation areas, and units responsible for testing. He said the second batch will be administered to staff who do not come in direct contact with such areas.
In theory, because the AstraZeneca vaccine requires two shots to achieve maximum effectiveness, fewer than 60,000 people would be eligible to receive the shots. However, Chen said that because the interval between the two doses is more than eight weeks, and in order to ensure the scope of protection is as large as possible, 117,000 frontline medical professionals will be inoculated.
When asked whether Taiwan will lift its travel restrictions now that vaccines have arrived, Chen says that only when at least 60 percent of the population has been vaccinated will changes in public epidemic prevention policy be considered. Chen pointed out that Taiwan is currently behind much of the world in terms of vaccinations.
He added that this shipment was the result of a direct purchase from the manufacturer and that it did not go through COVAX. The shots arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport from South Korea at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning aboard Korean Air Flight KE691.