Thu, Dec 06, 2018 - Page 2 News List

Ministry asks firms for flu vaccines to make up shortfalls

DEFECTIVE BATCHES:Even with the additional vaccines ordered from pharmaceutical firms, the nation would be short by 300,000 influenza vaccines

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has asked pharmaceutical companies to provide influenza vaccines to make up for a supply shortage that resulted from the recall of defective vaccines found over the past two months, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday.

A few cases of a discolored vaccines, as well as vaccines with suspended particles were detected in October and last month, after the government-funded flu vaccination began on Oct. 15.

The batches containing the defected vaccines were returned to the pharmaceutical companies for examination and investigation.

The incident resulted in the suspension of vaccinations at schools, and a few hospitals had to stop offering government-funded vaccinations.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus on Sunday called on Chen to resign to take political responsibility for the incident.

Asked about the shortage of flu vaccines, Chen told reporters that the Food and Drug Administration has one of the world’s strictest standards for examining imported vaccines, adding that about 700,000 vials of defective vaccines were recalled.

The ministry has asked local pharmaceutical companies to provide vaccines to replenish the supplies, he said.

However, there would still be a shortage of about 300,000 vials from the 6 million government-funded vaccines planned for this year, Chen added.

Asked about the KMT’s call for him to resign, Chen refused to give a direct answer, saying that he keeps a calm attitude and thinks that the public would want the ministry to protect vaccination safety, adding that it would continue to uphold the principle while keeping the information channels open and transparent.

Chen was also asked to comment on President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) remarks at a meeting in Chiayi on Sunday about launching cheaper cigarettes, which was criticized by politicians and anti-smoking groups.

Presidential Office spokesman Sidney Lin (林鶴明) on Monday said that Tsai gave the example when speaking about government policies sometimes failing to reflect public opinion, such as when tobacco tax was increased to support long-term care services, causing smokers to complain about increased cigarette prices.

Chen said smoking is harmful for health, and urged smokers to quit.

However, he said that if smokers find that hard to do, they should at least try to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke, which would benefit their health and help them save money.

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