Several Taiwanese mayors today received the first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine as the government expanded access of Covid-19 vaccines to government officials and workers involved in disease prevention.

Pilots and flight attendants of Taiwanese airlines, ship crew members, and cab drivers — non-medical workers who are highly likely to be exposed to the coronavirus — have also been made eligible for vaccination as part of the plan.

The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) held a press conference in the morning to call on the two categories of people to receive vaccination. To date, around 613,000 people in Taiwan are eligible for a vaccine.

Chen Tsung-yen, Deputy Director of the CECC and Deputy Minister of the Interior, said he believes a surge in the rate of vaccination is a boost to measures of disease prevention and control.

Mayors of Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, and Taichung were vaccinated this morning. Cheng Wen-tsan, Taoyuan Mayor, received an injection with 10 city government officials and said he has confidence in the CECC, hospital, and the vaccine.

As of today, less than 30,000 in Taiwan have received the first shot of the vaccine against Covid-19, most of whom are medical workers who are the first in line to receive the jab. The country started inoculations on March 22 with the first batch of vaccines, 117,000 AstraZeneca shots.

Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration approved today the second batch of vaccines, around 200,000 AstraZeneca doses supplied by COVAX, and said they will be administered by the evening to hospitals across the country.

Taiwan has so far struck deals for around 20 million vaccine doses, including half directly purchased from AstraZeneca. Moderna will provide more than 5 million doses to Taiwan and the first shipment is likely to arrive as early as May.

Zhuang Ren-hsiang, a spokesperson for the CECC, said the center will distribute the vaccine doses set to expire sooner and the expand eligibility for vaccination to those who need to travel abroad.

The second batch of vaccine doses expires by the end of May, before the first batch currently in use, which expires by mid-June.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said last week, the CECC is considering administering 5,000 to 10,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses by the end of April to those traveling abroad for work, study, or to receive medical treatments. They will need to pay for the vaccination. Other details of the plan will be revealed as early as this week.

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

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