The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that local governments must offer COVID-19 vaccination according to the center’s priority list, or they could face receiving reduced numbers of vaccines in future distributions.
The center released a COVID-19 vaccine priority list with 10 groups in late February, before vaccinations began in late March and by the middle of last month, people in the first to eighth groups and family members living with people in the top three groups were eligible for government-funded vaccines.
However, after a local outbreak occurred in the middle of last month, the center limited the number of eligible recipients to people in the top three groups — frontline health workers, disease prevention officials and those with a high risk of exposure to infected individuals — in Taipei and New Taipei City, and only people in the top group elsewhere in the nation.
Photo courtesy of Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, last week said that it was considering readjusting the priority list, including moving people aged 75 and older, and residents and workers at long-term care centers to higher priority groups.
The list was due to be finalized at an Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meeting yesterday afternoon.
Asked about mayors announcing that they would allow certain groups of people to get vaccinated first, Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), who is deputy head of the center, said that the center stressed in a meeting with local government officials yesterday morning that the vaccination program must follow the center’s priority list.
He said people of many occupations have proposed to the center that they be moved to higher priority groups, but the priority list aims to create an effective line of defense against the coronavirus.
The center has asked the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to submit the eligible personnel to be included in the seventh group of essential workers for maintaining social operations, he said.
Separately yesterday, it was reported that former Yunlin County commissioner Chang Jung-wei (張榮味), who was granted parole on Monday last week, had been vaccinated, sparking public outrage.
Yunlin County Commissioner Chang Li-shan (張麗善), Chang Jung-wei’s younger sister, yesterday said that as she is the local disease prevention commander — the second group — and she lives “a yard apart from her brother,” he was vaccinated “according to the rules” because he is “a family member living with a person in the top three groups.”
Asked to comment on the report, Chen Tsung-yen said that when a batch of AstraZeneca vaccine was distributed to the county on May 26, the eligibility of family members living with people in the top three groups had been suspended.
Asked how the center would prevent people with “special privilege” from jumping the line and getting vaccinated first, Chen Tsung-yen said that if it is confirmed that people who are not in the eligible groups have been vaccinated, the center would reduce the number of vaccines distributed to that city or county.
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