The government should investigate whether certain politicians have abused their privilege to be vaccinated ahead of the groups prioritized for vaccination by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), the New Power Party (NPP) said yesterday.
The party addressed the issue at a news conference after Executive Yuan political adviser Ting Yi-ming (丁怡銘), Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) and Yunlin County Commissioner Chang Li-shan (張麗善) were accused of abusing their status to get themselves or family members vaccinated.
Six health clinics in Taipei were reported to have received 202 vials of COVID-19 vaccines distributed through the Taipei Department of Health, but to have failed to administer the vaccines according to the center’s priority groups.
“All of these incidents show that only the lives of those with privilege matter, and that ‘One Island, One Destiny’ is nothing more than a feel-good slogan,” NPP Legislator Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said.
The incidents also exposed the challenges of administering the vaccines, Chen said, adding that the center should post online the number of people vaccinated and prevent people from exploiting loopholes in the system.
NPP Legislator Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) said that he found the explanations given by Chang and the Taipei City Government “completely unacceptable.”
The NPP has received tips about similar incidents occurring at the central and local governments, Chiu added.
The Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office should investigate whenever it receives reports of such incidents, and hold accountable those responsible, Chiu said.
Given the scarcity of vaccines, high-risk people should be immunized first, but there are selfish people who take advantage of their privilege to cut to the front of the vaccination line, NPP Legislator Claire Wang (王婉諭) said.
The central government should explain what it is planning to do to address the issue, she added.
“In a plenary session of the Legislative Yuan, we asked what the government would do if local government officials fail to comply with the priority groups approved by the CECC when distributing and administering COVID-19 vaccines,” Wang said. “Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung [陳時中] clearly told us that the central government has the ultimate authority to decide who should be vaccinated first. If local governments fail to follow the order, the ministry could reprimand them by distributing fewer doses to them.”
However, the ministry’s way of reprimanding local governments would be unfair to people who are in a priority group and have been waiting to get vaccinated, Wang said.
“People of privilege are getting vaccinated, but localities where they get vaccinated are getting fewer doses because of them. This will make it even more difficult for people who are in a priority group to get inoculated,” she said.
Ting said that he could get vaccinated ahead of others because he is in the second priority group, which comprises central and local government disease prevention personnel, Wang said, adding that the definition of who falls into the group remains unclear.
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