Sun, Oct 02, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Government-funded flu shots begin, minister first

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien (林奏延) was the first to get his government-funded influenza vaccination yesterday, with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) urging people who are eligible to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

“In past flu seasons, many middle-aged people have suffered severe complications from the flu and some of even died, causing a serious impact to social and economic safety,” Lin said. “Therefore the Executive Yuan has approved the use of second reserve funds to purchase 6 million flu vaccine shots this season.”

He said the number of vaccines purchased is about double the number in previous seasons and that the ministry hopes to increase the nation’s seasonal flu vaccine coverage rate from 13 percent to about 25 percent.

Lin and CDC Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) were vaccinated at a ceremony at the CDC yesterday morning.

“Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the flu,” Chou said, adding that the flu vaccine offers about 70 to 90 percent protection in healthy adults, reduces the risk of severe flu complications by about 50 to 60 percent and death by 90 percent in elderly people.

People are advised to get vaccinated each year, Chou said.

People eligible for government-funded flu vaccinations include children and adolescents aged between six months and 18 years, pregnant women and women who have given birth within the past six months, people more than 50 years old, people with high-risk chronic diseases, rare diseases, catastrophic illnesses or with a body mass index of 30 or more.

Healthcare or disease prevention personnel, livestock breeding or animal disease prevention and control personnel and people living in long-term care facilities are also eligible.

Taipei City Government Disease Control and Prevention director Chen Shao-ching (陳少卿) said the CDC’s data showed that the predominant flu virus strain this year is the influenza A (H1N1) virus, and the trivalent flu vaccines protect against two influenza A strains, H1N1 and H3N2, and one influenza B strain.

The CDC said that flu vaccines take about two weeks to be effective and urged people who are eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Hospitals and clinics that provide government-funded flu vaccines can be found on the centers’ Web site, http://antiflu.cdc.gov.tw.

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