The government should save doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine that are expected to arrive in Taiwan for junior-high and high-school students, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said yesterday, despite the health minister earlier saying that preparations are being made to do so.
The WHO’s “COVID-19 Vaccines Advice” Web page says that the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts considers the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine “suitable for use by people aged 12 years and above,” the KMT said in a statement.
The European Medicines Agency has approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12 to 15; the US Food and Drug Administration has expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to include adolescents aged 12 to 15; and the French government has allowed people aged 12 and above to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with parental consent, the KMT said.
Photo courtesy of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) via CNA
KMT Culture and Communications Committee director-general Alicia Wang (王育敏) told an online news conference that despite the US’ and EU’s approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use by adolescents aged 12 to 18, she has so far not seen the government make special arrangements to reserve doses for adolescents in its procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
There is demand for COVID-19 vaccinations among adolescents, she said, urging the government to include junior-high and high-school students among those to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.
Thanks to the efforts of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou (郭台銘), Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, the nation is likely to receive a total of 15 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, said KMT Legislator Lin Yi-hua (林奕華), who sits on the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee.
If some of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines could be reserved for students, parents would feel better about sending them back to school, she said.
However, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), on Monday said that as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only one the nation would receive that has been approved for use among those aged 12 and above, the CECC would prioritize teenagers when administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines donated by Gou.
The ministry’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Sunday had already begun preparations for immunizing teenagers, Chen said.
As of the end of last month, there were about 1.4 million people aged 12 to 18 in Taiwan, the KMT said, citing demographic data from the Ministry of the Interior.
Administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to adolescents aged 12 to 18 would not prevent individuals in COVID-19 vaccination priority groups 1 to 10 from receiving vaccinations, it said.
Regarding vaccination sites, Steve Wu (吳政鴻), vice president of the Taipei Federation of Parents’ Associations of Junior High School Students, said that the government should consider allowing students to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations at school to reduce their risk of infection from going elsewhere to receive the shots.
“It is the government’s responsibility and duty to protect the next generation,” the KMT said.
With less than two months before school returns from summer break, the government should plan ahead, it said.
Although it is uncertain when the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are to arrive, the government should make arrangements for junior-high and high-school students to receive them as soon as possible, it said.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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