Government gives free flu vaccines to eligible people

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Oct 02, 2017 - Page 3

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday announced the availability of this year’s government-funded flu vaccines, urging eligible people to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

The CDC purchased 6 million vaccines for this flu season, hoping to achieve a national coverage rate of at least 25 percent, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who took the lead by getting a shot yesterday morning.

“Rather than receiving a government flu vaccination, some people pay to get vaccinated, and flu prevention was very effective last year,” he said. “Serious flu complications were fewer than 1,000 cases last year, which is a relatively low number compared with the year before, so we hope to achieve a similar result this year.”

The number of flu cases in the nation generally increases rapidly starting in late November every year, peaks at the end of the year or the beginning of the next year, and gradually decreases in February or March, the CDC said.

As it takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop in the body after vaccination, the CDC urged people to get vaccinated as soon as possible in October so that they would be better protected during the worst part of the flu season.

In addition to the groups eligible to receive government-funded vaccines last year, the government is covering two additional groups: parents with infants younger than six months old and people who work at preschools or nurseries.

Last year’s eligible groups were children and adolescents from six months to 18 years old; adults above 50 years old; people with chronic, rare or catastrophic illnesses, or a body mass index of 30 or above; institutionalized people; medical and disease prevention personnel; those who keep livestock; and animal disease prevention personnel.

At another location yesterday, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) demonstrated how to get the flu vaccine shot, while his parents also received pneumococcal conjugate vaccines.

The Taipei City Government had announced that it would provide government-funded pneumococcal conjugate vaccinations to the city’s senior residents (65 years old or above), starting on the same day as the flu vaccination, urging those eligible to get both shots.

“Prevention is more important than treatment, and vaccination is a very effective prevention method,” Ko said, adding that the city government is providing additional funding to vaccinate senior residents because pneumonia was the nation’s third -biggest cause of death last year.

To enhance the city’s general protection against the flu, the city also provides government-funded flu vaccinations to city government personnel who meet a lot of people in their daily duties, such as the police, environmental protection personnel, and elementary and high-school teachers, he said.