Taipei, June 16 (CNA) Taiwan will start administering another 73,200 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, reserving them for people in its top three priority groups, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Wednesday.
Of the 150,000 doses of Moderna received May 28 from the manufacturer, over 70,000 have already been distributed to hospitals around the country last week and 37,505 have already been given to frontline healthcare workers, who are at the top of the country's priority list, said Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC.
Starting Friday, people in categories two and three on the list will also be able to receive their first shots of Moderna, Chen said at a news briefing in Taipei.
In that round, 73,200 Moderna vaccine doses will be administered not only to frontline healthcare workers but also to first responders and employees in the aviation and maritime industries across the country, he said.
Taipei and New Taipei cities, two of the hotpots in the current domestic outbreak of COVID-19, will receive a larger allocation than other municipalities, Chen said.
Taiwan has signed contracts to purchase 5.05 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Moderna and has received 150,000 doses so far.
Meanwhile, the government on Tuesday expanded its distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine to include seniors 75 years old and over, workers at long-term care facilities, and kidney dialysis patients, according to Chen.
That day, some 140,000 shots of AstraZeneca were administered, he said, expressing optimism that the country would soon reach its goal of giving 1 million shots per week.
The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has reached category six on the CECC's list of 10 categories, although the country is still far short of the number of vaccines required to inoculate its 23.5 million people.
Taiwan has signed contracts to purchase nearly 20 million vaccines from abroad, including 5.05 million doses of Moderna, 10 million of AstraZeneca, and 4.76 million doses of unspecified brands through the COVAX program.
So far, it has received only 150,000 doses of Moderna and 1.9 million doses of AstraZeneca, including 1.24 million donated by Japan.