TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) is considering offering leftover COVID-19 vaccines to people over the age of 30 via an online reservation system.
Vaccine vials often contain enough material for 10 people to receive one dose each, but if anyone does not show up for their appointment, the container is discarded and the remaining doses are wasted. To solve this problem and to more quickly give access to younger unprioritized age groups, South Korea has recently launched a real-time online booking system for leftover vaccines for people over the of 30.
The system enables users to monitor the availability of jabs via popular apps and receive real-time notifications if there is a no-show. Users can search maps in Naver or KakaoTalk to find the closest clinic with remaining doses, or they can make reservations with up to five hospitals ahead of time to receive alerts on their phones when openings become available, reported The Korea Herald.
However, the competition for these openings is fierce, with slots for leftover jabs being snapped up "in the blink of an eye."
When asked whether Taiwan would consider a similar option for people under the age of 30, Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said he would "lean towards opening up" the use of leftover vaccines. However, he said he would need to first broach the proposal with cities and counties represented at a national epidemic prevention conference slated for Friday (June 25).
In addition, he said there are implementation issues that need to be resolved and standards to be set. He also emphasized that the center is open to creating special vaccine programs for various counties and cities based on their specific needs.
He said that for example, if many homeless people in Greater Taipei are testing positive for COVID-19, the local governments can propose a vaccination plan within a certain scope. Chen said that the CECC would then coordinate with those governments on implementing it.