Taiwan’s Premier Su Tseng-chang said today that the government has struck deals for around 20 million Covid-19 vaccine doses.

Su said part of the population will be vaccinated as early as this quarter. Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said vaccination will not be mandatory.

With native vaccine development in progress, Taiwan has also been seeking to procure vaccine doses from abroad, a report by the Executive Yuan, the executive branch of Taiwan’s government, pointed out.

Taiwan has secured 4.76 million doses from COVAX, a global initiative designed to ensure fair vaccine distribution among member states, 10 million AstraZeneca doses, and 5.05 million Moderna doses.

COVAX doses can arrive as early as this quarter, and AstraZeneca and Moderna might be able to supply vaccine doses in the second quarter of the year.

Negotiations for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are underway, the report said. If the deal is done, Taiwan will secure five million more doses.

Chen said Taiwan might be able to supply domestic-developed vaccine doses in July.

Su said it seems to be late to start mass vaccination, but Taiwan can afford forestalling because it has had the Covid-19 pandemic under control. It can demand a higher standard for vaccine safety, too.

Frontline medical workers will be the first in line to be vaccinated, and there will be an order in which other people receive vaccination, Chen said.

If some don’t want to be vaccinated, it will be the turn for others later in line, Chen said. Vaccination will not be mandatory.

When Kuomintang (KMT) legislator Fei Hong-tai questioned the quality of AstraZeneca vaccine, Chen said, “You can wait. We will not force you to take it.”

Asked if he is willing to be the first to receive a vaccine as the head of the Covid-19 task force, Chen gave a positive response, but said he is not a frontline medical worker who will be in the first group of people to receive vaccination.

Lawmakers believe if Chen receives the first shot of a vaccine, it would help dispel fears of the safety of vaccines. Many high-ranking government officials around the world have sought to boost public confidence in vaccines by doing so.

While vaccination worries people, vaccine coverage is crucial, Chen said. The government is building a map, through which people can understand how vaccines are available to them in the region where they live.

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TNL Editor: Bryan Chou, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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