TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Though most teachers in Taiwan’s six special municipalities had gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before schools reopened on Wednesday (Sept. 1), Taichung City Council (TCCC) proposed that teachers who refuse to get vaccinated for reasons other than health concerns should pay for a COVID test themselves.
Just before schools reopened, the vaccination rates for teachers spanned Taipei’s 94.8%, New Taipei’s 95%, Taoyuan’s 99.6%, Taichung’s 93.77%, Tainan’s 95%, and Kaohsiung’s 86%, CNA reported on Tuesday (Aug. 31). These special municipalities require unvaccinated teachers to produce a negative PCR or rapid test result before entering schools, followed by additional tests every seven days.
According to UDN, by Wednesday, the teacher vaccination rate in Taichung had risen to 94.95%, with over 2,000 still unvaccinated. TCCC Councilor Huang Chien-hao (黃建豪) said those who can get vaccinated but refuse should not be eligible for subsidized rapid tests, as most school volunteers seeking to get vaccinated have not been able to.
Taichung Department of Education Commissioner Yang Chen-sheng (楊振昇) was in agreement with Huang. He said he will make the proposal to the central government.
However, a teacher surnamed Chen (陳) said there are various reasons for teachers not to get a vaccine, as they may be new substitute teachers, extracurricular instructors, coaches, or unfit to receive an AstraZeneca shot. Vaccination is a choice and not an obligation, and the government should not pressure teachers into getting vaccinated by making them pay for tests, added Chen.
Currently, Taiwan residents may pay to receive a PCR or antibody test if they have specific needs, such as travel. However, the Ministry of Education pays for unvaccinated teachers’ tests in order to ensure safety at schools, per CNA.