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More book AstraZeneca shots; Japan to donate more jabs to Taiwan

ROC Central News Agency

09/03/2021 10:06 PM

Taipei, Sept. 3 (CNA) Around 339,000 people in Taiwan had made appointments Friday for their first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, within three hours after the bookings opened, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The government's online vaccination appointment system started accepting new bookings at 10 a.m. for people aged 23-28 who had registered prior to July 19 and indicated their willingness to obtain an AstraZeneca shot, the CECC said.

As of 1 p.m., some 339,000 appointments had been recorded, the CECC said, adding that an estimated 522,000 people were eligible to book shots before the deadline at 6 p.m. Saturday.

In that round of vaccination, AstraZeneca first doses will be administered Sept. 9-12, the CECC said.

The current round of AstraZeneca vaccination kicked off Friday, starting with some 806,000 people who had already made appointments, according to the CECC. Those earlier bookings were open to people over 28 years old and those 18-28 who are listed as at-risk groups because of health conditions.

To date, Taiwan has taken delivery of 7.23 million doses of AstraZeneca, about 6.6 million of which have already been administered.

The AstraZeneca shots have come directly from the British-Swedish vaccine maker, the global vaccine sharing initiative COVAX, and from countries such as Japan that have made donations to Taiwan.

On Friday, the Japanese government, which has donated 3.34 million AstraZeneca doses to Taiwan, pledged another donation of the same brand.

At a regular press briefing, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said it was unclear how many doses will be in the latest shipment from Japan, but the CECC planned to allocate some to Japanese nationals living in Taiwan.

The CECC wishes to reserve some shots for the Japanese in Taiwan who may have refrained from taking the vaccine because it was a gift from their country, said Chen, who heads the CECC.

There are currently 10,000 Japanese nationals based in Taiwan who may or may not have been vaccinated, Chen said, without providing any details about the CECC's plan for their vaccination.

Meanwhile, people over the age of 19 can obtain the locally developed Medigen vaccine at CECC-contracted hospitals and clinics without making an appointment on the government system, the CECC said.

The CECC had planned to administer some 800,000 shots of Medigen in its first rollout of the brand Aug. 23-29, but as of Friday, only some 652,957 had been administered, leaving around 200,000 doses in stock, CECC data showed.

 


Demand for the Medigen vaccine has plummeted since the end of August, after the CECC announced another round of AstraZeneca vaccination and opened registration to all adults for the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT) vaccine.

Medigen vaccination peaked on the first day of the rollout, with more than 167,000 doses administered, but it gradually declined over the next few days, CECC data showed.

After another brief spike of about 146,000 doses on Aug. 27, the numbers began falling again, and since Aug. 30, it has been only a few hundred per day, the data showed.

Commenting on the matter Sunday, Chen said the main contributing factors may have been the recent reports of severe allergic reactions to the Medigen vaccine and the popularity of the BNT vaccine among those waiting to receive a vaccine.

As of Friday evening, about 3.42 million adults had listed the BNT vaccine as a choice, on the government's registration system, CECC data showed.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan, Chen Chieh-ling and Teng Pei-ju)

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