Booster shot rollout begins, vaccines at PX Mart
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has begun its rollout of Covid-19 vaccinebooster shots.
Health minister Chen Shih-chung says the programme will enable people in certain high-risk categories to get a third vaccine dose.
Chen says the booster shots are only currently being given to people in categories one through three of the government's vaccine priority list.
It covers who received their second shot at least five months ago.
Those categories include medical workers, epidemic prevention workers in central and local government, and people at higher risk of exposure to the disease as a result of their jobs.
Chen says central government officials are being excluded from the list, unless they have to make frequent visits to hospitals and government quarantine centers.
Figures show 60,000 people are currently eligible for a third dose and the Moderna vaccine brand is being offered at this stage of the rollout.
Those eligible for a booster shot do not have to go through the official vaccine platform and can instead make appointments directly with hospitals offering the vaccine.
The move comes as the CECC is taking steps to guard against the Omicron variant. It has also revealed that it will be setting up vaccination stations in 174 PX Mart stores around the country.
The CECC had said earlier it will initiate a "jab and go" campaign, where people can get vaccinated at certain locations across cities without pre-registering.
CECC spokesperson Zhuang Ren-hsiang has said that PX Mart has agreed to allow medical teams to set up stations at 174 different locations.
Gifts may be offered to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said PX Mart has offered suggestions on how the process can be carried out but its currently unconfirmed when the programme will be rolled out.
In other vaccine news, the CECC says it is drawing up plans to prevent the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung says the CECC held an emergency meeting on Wednesday and determined it would take a three-pronged approach.
Chen says the centre will work to speed up the administering of booster shots for high-risk groups, by shortening the interval between the second and third jab to 5 weeks.
The jab will consist of a half-dose of the Moderna vaccine for those in categories 1 to 3 of the government's vaccination priority list.
Medical teams will also enter quarantine facilities and hotels to test travellers staying there, in an effort to limit the risk of passing on the virus to others while traveling to a hospital for testing.
The CECC will also be stepping up checks and drawing up heavier fines for those who violate home isolation protocols.
And organizers of all large-scale events will be required to draw up plans beforehand to handle a potential outbreak.