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Taiwan 1st-dose vaccination rate surpasses 60%

Taiwan has received nearly 26 million doses of vaccine, CECC poised to loosen COVID restrictions

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Taiwan 1st-dose vaccination rate surpasses 60%

(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Friday (Oct. 15) announced the country had reached a first-dose COVID-19 vaccination rate of over 60%, paving the way for further relaxed restrictions in the near future.

CECC Spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) announced that 239,280 doses were administered on Thursday (Oct. 14). This raised the total number of doses delivered to 19.02 million, boosting the percentage of Taiwan residents who have had at least one COVID vaccine shot to 60.4%.

The 11th round of vaccinations started on Friday, with 1.8 million people having signed up for this phase. The 12th round of vaccinations will start on Oct. 22 and deliver up to 4.4 million doses, increasing Taiwan's vaccine coverage rate.

On Sept. 24, Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that once 60% of the population has had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the center would begin to lower epidemic control measures and some businesses that have been shuttered can reopen. He emphasized the center would still need to look at implementing a "new epidemic prevention lifestyle" and that three factors will need to be considered before loosening restrictions.

On Thursday (Oct. 14), Lo Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, said that his center has entered discussions with the Ministry of Economic Affairs on formulating epidemic prevention guidelines to enable the remaining shuttered adult leisure and entertainment venues to reopen. Lo stressed that one of the key requirements that must be met before these venues can reopen is that at least 60% of staff have received their first dose of a COVID vaccine.

That same day, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that with the latest shipments of three batches of vaccines this week, Taiwan has received nearly 26 million doses of vaccines. Su said he hoped that Taiwan's first-dose vaccination rate can reach 70%, with a second-dose rate rise of 30%, by the end of the month.

In September, Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) said that if the first-dose vaccination rate reaches 70% by the end of October, he will ask the CECC to lower the epidemic alert from Level 2 to Level 1.

During an interpellation session of the Legislative Yuan on Tuesday (Oct. 12), Chen said that in November the scale of vaccinations will increase and the goal is to achieve full vaccination in 60% of the population by the end of the year. Toxicology expert Chao Ming-wei (招名威) was cited by SET News as saying that when 70% of the population has been fully vaccinated people will no longer need to wear a mask when they go out in public.

However, former Deputy Director of Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control Shih Wen-I (施文儀) was cited by UDN on Tuesday as cautioning that the vaccine coverage rate in Taiwan is not that high and flu season is approaching. Therefore, he believes it is too early for people to take off their masks in public, but he said that it is "not too late" to talk about getting rid of masks by spring.