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Taiwan to roll out second-generation Moderna vaccine

Only two groups will be eligible for Moderna booster shot

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This August 2022 photo provided by Pfizer shows vials of the company's updated COVID-19 vaccine during production in Kalamazoo, Mich.  
 U.S. regulato...

This August 2022 photo provided by Pfizer shows vials of the company's updated COVID-19 vaccine during production in Kalamazoo, Mich. U.S. regulato...

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is set to implement a booster program using the second-generation vaccine by Moderna with two groups prioritized.

The advisory committee of the health ministry in a meeting on Friday (Sept. 2) granted emergency use (EUA) for the vaccine, which targets the original strain and the BA.1 Omicron variant. It should be administered at least three months after a previous COVID vaccine shot.

Currently, the vaccine will be rolled out only to the vulnerable and the most likely to be exposed, according to a decision made by the panel of experts on Monday (Sept. 5).

The vulnerable are defined as seniors aged 65 and older, those aged 18 and older with compromised immunity, and others deemed at high risk. The other eligible group includes medical workers and port workers, CNA quoted Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices convener Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎) as saying.

Infectious disease expert Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said Monday the vaccine should also be able to protect against severe conditions caused by BA.4 and BA.5 variants, considering it has a neutralizing antibody level 1.68 times that of the first-generation vaccine.

Around 2 million doses of the updated Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in Taiwan by the end of this month.

Meanwhile, Lee said the Central Epidemic Command Center has no plans to give the fourth shot to individuals aged 49 and younger using the first-generation COVID vaccines. This is based on practices around the world, he added.