Taipei, June 21 (CNA) Pregnant women and seniors 65 years old or older could be eligible to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine once the latest shipment of doses has been inspected, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said on Monday.
The CECC released a revised and expanded COVID-19 vaccine priority list on Monday, which added pregnant women to Category 6.
In the three new categories it added, Category 8 includes the elderly aged 65-74 and indigenous people aged 55-64; and Category 9 includes people aged 19-64 who suffer from conditions that put them at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 and those who suffer from rare or serious illnesses or injuries.
Category 10 are people aged 50-64, according to the CECC.
The revised priority list will not affect the ongoing rollout of the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines, but will apply to the administration of the 2.5 million Moderna vaccine doses donated by the United States that arrived in Taiwan on Sunday, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at the CECC press briefing.
Although the CECC has not yet decided how many of the categories will be eligible for the new Moderna doses, Chen said that he was "almost certain" that pregnant women and seniors over 65 years old will be included.
The Moderna doses donated by the U.S. expire from Oct. 27 to Nov. 27, according to the CECC.
Currently, the AstraZeneca vaccine is available to categories 1 through 6 on the priority list, as well as the military, while the Moderna vaccine is reserved only for categories 1 to 3 on the list.
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.
It has also signed contracts to buy 10 million doses of vaccines from two Taiwanese manufacturers.
To date, however, Taiwan has received only 4.8 million doses of vaccines. These include 390,000 doses of Moderna Taiwan purchased, 2.5 million doses of Moderna donated by the U.S., and over 1.9 million doses of AstraZeneca -- 1.24 million donated by Japan and 726,600 purchased from the manufacturer and through the United Nations vaccine distribution program COVAX.
A little over 1.54 million doses of the vaccines have been administered in Taiwan, out of a population of 23 million people.