Eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines now includes all healthcare facility workers, while a further expansion is to be considered tomorrow, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it confirmed two new imported cases of COVID-19, both arrivals from Egypt.
Vaccine eligibility was yesterday expanded from frontline healthcare workers at designated COVID-19 hospitals to all healthcare facility workers.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC) spokesperson, said that 17,245 people had as of yesterday morning received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Only 167 people were vaccinated on Monday, as it was a holiday, and there have been no new reports of adverse events following vaccinations, he said.
The batch of AstraZeneca vaccines that arrived on Sunday — the first allocation through the COVAX global vaccine-sharing program — expires on May 31, earlier than the batch that arrived in Taiwan last month, so the center is to discuss tomorrow if vaccine eligibility is to be expanded further, he added.
Many countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany and the UK, are still reviewing whether there is a correlation between blood-clotting events and the AstraZeneca vaccination, Chuang said, in an attempt to allay public concern over the vaccine’s safety.
The center adopted a recommendation from the European Medicines Agency and the WHO last month, which said that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and that vaccinations should continue, he said.
The European Medicines Agency is expected to issue new guidance today, so the center would modify the policy if needed, he added.
Chuang meanwhile said that two new imported cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed.
Two Taiwanese men who early last month traveled to Egypt for work and returned to Taiwan on Sunday had symptoms, even though they provided the required negative polymerase chain reaction test results before boarding their plane.
The men reported experiencing symptoms to airport quarantine officers upon their arrival. On Monday last week, one began coughing, while the other had a cough, a runny nose, a sore throat and a headache, and their airport tests returned positive yesterday, Chuang said.
Two of the five passengers who sat near the men on the flight were placed in home isolation, while the other three are staying at centralized quarantine facilities, he added.
Chuang said Taiwan has had 1,050 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 36 of them still being treated in hospitals.
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