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60% of Taiwanese may get first vaccine dose by October: health minister

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CNA photo May 28, 2021
Taipei, May 28 (CNA) About 60 percent of Taiwan's population may receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by October, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said at a legislative hearing Friday.

Asked by Kuomintang Legislator Tseng Ming-chung when Taiwan could expect that 60 percent of its people get at least one vaccine jab, Chen said it would depend on the availability of vaccines.

"It would take about 14 million doses of the vaccine for 60 percent of Taiwanese people to get their first dose, but we are expecting to take delivery of only 11 million doses by August," Chen said.

Taiwan has a population of 23.5 million people.

"We expect to have enough doses for that purpose by September. If the speed with which we distribute these is fast enough, we can get 60 percent of our population a first dose by October," he said.

Tseng told CNA that he understood it took two doses for a person to be fully vaccinated, but because of Taiwan's lack of vaccines, he wanted to ask Chen how long it would take for people to simply get a first dose at a level that some experts see as achieving some degree of herd immunity.

The issue has grown pressing because of a surge in COVID-19 cases that has sent demand for vaccines skyrocketing.

Taiwan's vaccine rollout program has been lackluster, hampered by the country's inability to secure delivery of vaccines from overseas.

As of Thursday, almost all of the 316,200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that were delivered in the past two months had been given to local residents.

The distribution of another 410,400 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine began Thursday, and 150,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived in Taiwan on Friday.

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