Taipei, Sept. 18 (CNA) The second Medigen COVID-19 vaccine jab will start a few days early while the seasonal influenza vaccination program will be rolled out around Taiwan starting Oct. 1, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Saturday.
A total of 6.32 million flu vaccine doses will be available this year to citizens and legal residents of Taiwan, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung said at a daily CECC press briefing.
Taiwan typically starts its government-funded flu vaccination program in October, as flu cases tend to climb in November and peak between December and March.
Students in elementary, junior high and high schools generally receive their free flu shots at school, while other members of the public can get them at designated hospitals.
A first batch of 932,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received at the beginning of September is expected to be administered to children aged 12-17 starting on Sept. 22.
Chen asked medical personnel to remind people to wait at least seven days between getting the seasonal flu vaccine and a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to make it easier to monitor side effects.
He also announced that the second jab of the Taiwan-made Medigen vaccine will start earlier than previously intended and run for six days from Sept. 27 to Oct. 2, instead of from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 as originally scheduled.
The health minister said the change was made at the request of several local governments, without elaborating.
The sale of locally made surgical face masks through the National Health Insurance (NHI) system, meanwhile, will be discontinued in convenience stores and supermarkets in Taiwan, Chen said.
The last round of online pre-ordering of face masks, which can be collected at convenience stores and supermarkets, will start Sept. 27 and end on Oct. 6, the CECC said, as demand via that channel has dropped sharply over the past few months.
The sale of face masks at NHI-contracted pharmacies as well as health centers in remote areas will continue, it said.
Under the system, holders of NHI cards are allowed to purchase 10 masks every two weeks.
The sale of face masks through the NHI system was introduced in February 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic took root to ration the distribution of face masks amid shortages created by panic buying.