People eligible for government-funded influenza vaccines should get their shot as soon as possible, as more than 90 percent of the doses procured for this flu season have been used and fewer than 300,000 remain, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.
Epidemic Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said that 39,676 hospital visits for flu-like illness were reported last week, about 1.3 percent more than the previous week.
However, while the weekly case numbers are rising, they are still lower than the 72,428 visits in the same week last year, Guo said.
Among clustered respiratory infections and flu-like illness reported in the past four weeks, 14 clusters were caused by respiratory syncytial virus infections, he said.
CDC physician Su Chia-ping (蘇家彬) said that since this year’s flu vaccine program started on Oct. 5, more than 5.606 million doses had been administered as of Monday, or about 92.9 percent of the vaccines.
The flu shot coverage rate among people aged 65 or older is 49.8 percent, near the target coverage of 52.5 percent for the age group, while the coverage rate among preschool children aged six months or older is 45.7 percent, also close to the target of 55.5 percent, Su said.
From Tuesday next week, people aged from 50 to 64 who do not have underlying health conditions that bear a higher risk of serious flu complications would again be eligible for government-funded shot, so the stocks are expected to deplete faster next month, he said.
CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that, excluding vaccines reserved for school students and preschool children, there are about 200,000 doses remaining, and another 60,000 expected to arrive next month.
The government-funded vaccines are expected to run out by the middle of next month, he said, adding that eligible people who want to get vaccinated are advised to check the CDC’s dedicated Web site at https://antiflu.cdc.gov.tw and call medical centers to confirm that doses are available before going to get a shot.
In related news, Chuang, who is also the Central Epidemic Command Center’s spokesman, said that Taiwan has paid a deposit for COVID-19 vaccines to the COVAX platform — a global alliance to ensure that members have equitable access to vaccines.
Based on the COVAX mechanism, member countries would receive enough doses to vaccinate 10 to 50 percent of their populations, he said.
As the vaccine requires two shots, Taiwan is expected to secure at least 4.6 million doses — for 10 percent of the population — in the first quarter of next year at the earliest, he said.
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